Today is the 319th day since Chicago has had a 25 mm snowfall, tying the record set in 1940. As our forecast calls for 10°C-plus temperatures this coming weekend, the record will just get harder to beat.
Unfortunately, the lack of snowfall is also a general lack of precipitation, so water levels in Lake Michigan has hit an all-time low:
he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron hit record lows in December, at nearly two and a half feet below average. Army Corps projections for lake levels have been dire since September, when it became clear that a relatively warm, dry fall and winter would not provide relief from a long drought and one of the the hottest summers ever.
Now the water is an inch below its record low for this time of year in 1964, and continues to drop. Shippers, fishermen, and small-town tourist harbors say federal help with digging out channels and repairing infrastructure could keep the low water problem from becoming a crisis.
The water will likely go back up in spring and summer, as it does every year; late winter is generally the lowest time in the lakes’ yearly cycle. But another summer of extreme heat or drought, and this winter’s woes will seem like kid stuff.
Also announced today, 2012 was the hottest year ever in the United States: "The average temperature for 2012 was 12.9°C, 1.8°C above normal and a full degree [Fahrenheit] higher than the previous warmest year recorded -- 1998 -- NOAA said in its report Tuesday."