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How Common is the January Thaw?

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It’s actually quite common and is considered a weather singularity

By Kalee Dionne

Published 5 hours ago

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It felt like spring when residents stepped outside Thursday—quite the treat after Chicago saw some of the coldest temperatures the area has ever experienced earlier this month.

But for those who thought the warm-up was unusual, the January thaw is actually quite common. It is considered a weather singularity, which the American Meteorological Society defines as “a condition that tends to occur on or near a specific date more frequently than chance would indicate.”

In Chicago, this normally occurs between Jan. 20-22.

On average during the month of January, Chicago will hit 50 degrees 58 percent of the time and up to 60 degrees 17 percent of the time.

According to the National Weather Service in Chicago, the last time we hit above the 60s this month was January 29, 2013. Here is a list of the highest temperatures experienced in January from the National Weather Service database:

67° 1/25/1950

65° 1/7/2008

65° 1/31/1989

65° 1/24/1967

65° 1/23/1909

65° 1/1/1876

64° 1/4/1997

There is a chance that Chicago will potentially have a longer stretch of milder air in a few weeks. Stay tuned. 

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