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BBC Bristol Online > Richard Angwin's Weather
Sunday 27th May 2001, 1430 GMT
Chicago - the Windy City
Chicago skyline
Chicago lies at the southern end of Lake Michigan. Whilst the cold waters of the lake do have an influence on the city’s weather, the fact that it lies at least 700 miles from the open ocean is probably of more significance.

Lying so far towards the interior of the North American land mass, means that Chicago experiences both hot summers and very cold winters. Record highs of 41 Celsius (105F) in July contrast with record lows of -31 Celsius in December.

Winters are particularly harsh in Chicago.

The average minimum temperature throughout the winter months is below -5 Celsius, with maximum temperatures barely above freezing.

Downtown Chicago
A busy downtown street
Although precipitation is not great, it is almost all in the form of snow and blizzard conditions can sweep down from the Canadian Arctic.

Freezing rain is another particularly nasty feature which is not uncommon in this part of the Midwest.

Although winter may seem like a bad time to visit the area, there can be unseasonably mild spells during the winter months and sunshine does average a respectable four hours per day.

Spring often comes very suddenly to Chicago.

The chinook wind can bring about a sudden rise in temperatures and a rapid thaw of any snow.

From late April through until around the middle of October it can be pleasantly warm and sunny, although mid-summer temperatures average 27 Celsius (81F) - too hot for some.

And is Chicago’s reputation as the Windy City deserved?

Well, Arctic blizzards and the chinook certainly give weight to such claims. And with the city lying on the shores of a cold water lake, large temperature contrasts generate marked local winds throughout the year.
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