Dec 9, 2021 - News

Illinois' winters keep getting warmer

Number of winter days above normal in Chicago per year
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

If you assumed your older relatives were blowing smoke with those stories of "walking to school for a mile — in the SNOW," you might be wrong.

  • Recent data shows that abnormally warm winter days have increased in all of Illinois' biggest towns over the last half century.

Why it matters: Analysis from independent climate research organization Climate Central suggests global warming is significantly shifting weather patterns in most U.S. cities.

What they measured: 52 years (1970-2021) of temperature data in 246 locations across the U.S. from December - February.National takeaways: Since 1970, winter is the fastest-warming season for the majority of the U.S.

  • About 98% (241) of the researched locations had an increase in their average winter temperatures since 1970, with 84% warming by 2°F or more.
  • Winter warming is greatest in the Great Lakes and Northeast region.
  • Warming winters can have negative impacts on our health and regional economies that depend on snow.

By the (Illinois) numbers: Since 1970, the average winter temperature in Illinois' biggest cities has increased between 2.8 (Champaign) and 5.3 (Peoria) degrees. Abnormally warm winter days have also increased by 8 to 17 days.

  • Rockford: 17
  • Peoria: 15
  • Moline: 13
  • Chicago: 10
  • Quincy: 10
  • Champaign: 8

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