A major winter storm has descended on Chicago, with meteorologists predicting two days of snow and strong winds in conjunction with temperatures around zero degrees.
“The combination of conditions is making for a very dangerous period, especially if you’re traveling or have to spend any time outside,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Bardou said at a Wednesday press conference.
We dug into the archives to look back at some of Chicago’s biggest snow storms. In the all-time record book, a 1960s storm takes the top spot. Over the course of two days in January 1967, a staggering 23 inches fell in the city, with snow sometimes falling at a rate of two inches per hour and wind gusts reaching 53 mph, according to the weather service.
The weather service theorizes the ’67 storm may have been the biggest disruption to commerce and transportation in the city since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. And it would be decades before another storm even came close to dropping that much snow in the city, but in 1999 a whopping 21.6 inches fell right after the new year to take second place among the biggest snowstorms in Chicago history. Rounding out the top three is a storm that lives on in recent memory: the “Groundhog Day blizzard” — AKA Snowmageddon — of 2011 that stranded motorists on Lake Shore Drive.
Perhaps photos from yesteryear can provide a silver lining as we hunker down in this storm. Once the dangerous weather passes, a blanket of snow provides a chance to embrace winter just as Chiagoans before us have done by sledding down a hill, playing a snowy game of tennis or even taking a bike ride.
Courtney Kueppers is a digital producer/reporter at WBEZ. Follow her@cmkueppers.