A 50-year record could fall Wednesday as the temperature in Chicago is expected to reach the mid- to upper-60s, according to the National Weather Service.
The warmest Dec. 15 to date was 64 degrees in 1971.
The balmy weather won't stick around, with a cold front pushing through Wednesday night into Thursday morning, bringing with it another round of strong winds. Gusts could exceed 60 miles per hour in northwestern Illinois, the weather service said.
The threat for damaging winds is increasing Wednesday night into Thursday, especially across northwestern Illinois. Prepare for downed tree limbs and local power outages. In addition, lawn decorations and trash bins may blow away. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/apd2F3sfAP
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) December 14, 2021
Though the average temperature for this time of year is in the mid-30s, short-lived warm-ups have occurred in December as far back as the 1870s. Chicago saw a string of 60-degree days Dec. 18-20 in 1877, and the mercury hit 64 on Christmas Day in 1982. The warmest temperature this late in the year occured on Dec. 28, 1984, when gauges reached 69 degrees.
The wild weather ride is typical of years in which the La Niña climate pattern prevails, according to the weather service. The theme of La Niña is rapid swings and a lot of variability, meteorologists with the Climate Predication Center said during a recent press briefing.
Among the unusual weather events already experienced this winter, the Chicago metro area saw its first December tornado since records were consistently kept beginning in 1950. An EF-0 twister with peak winds 75-85 miles per hour touched down Friday night, cutting a five-mile swath from Cedar Lake to Crown Point, the weather service said.
Preliminary track of the Cedar Lake to Crown Point tornado from the evening of Friday, 12/10/21. Primarily tree and minor roof damage was observed along the path. pic.twitter.com/cNoE8bdYr1
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) December 12, 2021