Chicago will likely break a record on Tuesday for the latest first measurable snow of the cold-weather season, according to forecasters.
On Monday (barring an unexpected heavy snow late in the day), Chicago tied the record, which dates back to Dec. 20, 2012.
There is no snow in the forecast until possibly well beyond Christmas.
There has been some snow so far this season. But instead of having the first typical snowfall earlier in the fall, there have only been traces.
To be measurable, there must be at least one-tenth of an inch. Since November, there have been such amounts in the area, but not at O’Hare International Airport, which is the official weather recording station for Chicago.
There are several reasons for the lack of snow, according to Birk. He says it’s all temperature- and moisture-related.
“If it’s too warm, the precipitation will mainly be rain,” Birk said.
Some may wonder if global warming could be the culprit, but that hypothesis could be hard to prove.
Birk says global warming is more of a long-term trend in temperature and precipitation, so it would be difficult to say that is the cause for a lack of snow during a given year.
However, it’s an idea that should not be ruled out completely.
“The thing with global warming is that you tend to have warmer weather and more extreme temperatures so the cause of (lack of snow) is more likely,” he said.
One thing that can be proved is the inconsistency of weather patterns. The variations from year to year are something Birk believes will continue.
For example, last year Chicago had little snow at this point in the season, according to Birk.
“Then the pattern flipped sometime around mid-January into February,” he said. “We ended up with quite a bit of snowfall in a short period of time.”
Until then, if you are dreaming of a white Christmas, the best option might be to keep dreaming. Birk says it doesn’t look like we are going to get anything on or before the 25th.
“The possible earliest time we could see snow is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but nothing is clear cut,” Birk said.