Dear Tom,

What is the record for the biggest and fastest temperature drop Chicago has ever seen?

— Michele Walker

Dear Michele,

Chicago’s meteorological reputation is premised on rapid change, so large and rapid temperature drops are part of our meteorological DNA. One of the main reasons is the city’s proximity to Lake Michigan, allowing sudden onshore wind shifts to send the mercury plunging in spring and summer and rising in the winter. The city’s largest short-term drop was a 22-degree plunge from 84 to 62 in just 150 seconds on May 9, 1963, measured along the lakefront at Grant Park. The city’s greatest one-day change was 52 degrees from 62 to 10 on Feb. 8, 1900. The largest day-to day plunge is 61 degrees from 74 on Nov. 11, 1911, to 13 on Nov. 12.


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