The Coldest Day in Chicago Ever


Prone though Chicago is to crazy weather indecision, a March this sunny exceeded our expectations. Not that we didn’t already skip over a winter that was predicted to create a mass exodus from the Windy City this past season (we’re still here). We keep hearing about record-breaking temperatures all over the map, but we want superlatives this afternoon. So, what was the coldest Chicago winter day? And how did this one stack up?

According to the National Weather Service our coldest day on record was on January 20, 1985. The temperature reached a bone-chilling -27 degrees, and the winds dipped to a jarring -60 F. That makes this winter’s coldest, 19 degrees on January 14, sound like a trip to Bermuda. Ok, and while we’re at it, the coldest recorded temperature ever (well, on human record at least, which excludes major ice-ages etc. etc.) comes to us from the Vostok Station in Antarctica on a disappointing July day in 1983. The thermometer clocked an insanely cold -128.6 F.

Why all the temperature talk? Well besides loving sentences that end in “ever”, we’re gearing up to do a series about what we can learn from ancient architecture. And being big fans of passive design, we know there’s a whole lot. Our first post will focus on insulation: how the heck did (and in many places, do) people deal with these extremes without climate control? How are these being incorporated into current designs to cut down on energy usage? Stay tuned!