The hottest, coldest and wettest days.

The shortest day of the year – December 21 – usually signals the arrival of winter.

But for meteorologists, autumn was like yesterday.

That’s because experts prefer to track the weather in four increments of three months each – instead of astronomical seasonswhich are determined by the equinoxes and solstices.

Thus, on December 1, the meteorological winter begins, which will last until the end of February.

WGN-Ch. 9 is a frequently asked question to Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling why forecasters prefer to follow meteorological seasons.

“I prefer meteorological winter—and the other three seasons: spring (March to May), summer (June to August), and fall (September to November)—because they are consistent in their start and end dates. This is very important for comparing seasons (such as temperatures) from year to year. Data is always for the same time periods.” Skilling said.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford sums up the fall season as dry and pleasant.

“Although Chicago has been drier than normal this season, it hasn’t been much,” he wrote in an email to the Tribune. “This season will likely end as (one of) the 20 to 30 driest on record.”

Ford says it gave Chicagoans a chance to get out and enjoy the welcoming weather — unlike October 2021when the temperature was high and combined with a lot of rainy days.

Here’s an overview of key dates to highlight the major meteorological events of autumn 2022.

Highest temperature: 88 degrees

A fan's sunglasses are shown wearing sunglasses as she and others watch the Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox game on September 1, 2022 in Chicago.

Brett Borchardt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Chicago office, says the season has been warmer than average, with nine days in November with high temperatures above 60 degrees and another five days above 70 degrees.

However, in the last 91 days, only one new record was recorded — 76 degrees on November 10.

Lowest temperature: 13 degrees

A new record high of 76 degrees on Nov. 10 at O’Hare International Airport was immediately followed by Chicago’s first official freeze of the season on Nov. 11 — about two weeks later than usual, the city’s official weather report said.

Temperatures in the area remained below normal for the next 10 days — including the coldest night of the season on Nov. 20 — before returning to above normal by the end of the month.

Highest daily rainfall: 1.45 inches

People walk near North Michigan Avenue as it rains on September 11, 2022 in Chicago.

Severe weather — including damaging winds, hail and/or tornadoes — has been recorded six times this fall. That’s twice the normal rate, Borchardt said.

Significant events include:

  • September 11-12: Heavy rain caused flash flooding on the north side of the city
  • September 18: Welcome to Geneva and St. Charles, the size of a ping pong ball
  • September 20: Thunderstorms and wind in places in northern Illinois
  • November 5: Destructive winds swept across northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana

But the rain was elusive.

Borchardt said Chicago’s rainfall totals are more than 7 inches below average for the year. The metro area is abnormally dry, with portions moderate drought.

Highest daily snow accumulation: 1 inch

A man clears the first snow of 2022 in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago on November 15, 2022.

A a trail of snow observed at O’Hare Airport on October 17, but Art the first measurable snowfall of the fall season arrived about a month later, when O’Hare Airport was recorded with an inch. Ford said this “timely but smaller” snowfall was on schedule, although the season total is about an inch below normal.

Last year, Chicago had its first snowfall of the season December 28 — the latest date for the first snowfall in Chicago’s history dating back to 1885.

Snow! But also quietly and softly, Borchardt also said.

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“That’s true, regardless of year or perspective.”

Chicago receives the bulk of its average annual snowfall total — about 38 inches — from December through February.

Now, he said, above-normal precipitation is forecast with average to below-average temperatures.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean more snow, rather we may remain in an active pattern with frequent storm systems and opportunities for precipitation,” he said.

Twitter @rumormill

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