Chicago has set nine record highs in a row with temperatures climbing above-normal for July 4th on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The high soared to 85 degrees on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, and 87 degrees on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, shattering previous records for these dates. The normal high for this time of year in Chicago is 48 degrees, while the normal high on July 4th is 84 degrees.
The high of 87 degrees set on Wednesday ties for the second highest temperature ever recorded in Chicago during the month of March. The all-time record for March still stands as 88 degrees on March 29, 1986.
On Thursday, March 22, 2012, the ninth record high in row was set in Chicago as the high rose to 83 degrees during the afternoon.
High temperatures have been more than 15 degrees above normal in Chicago for 12 straight days, since March 10, 2012. The average temperature so far this month is 18 degrees above normal.
"Until this year, Chicago had only 10 days reaching 80 in March," said AccuWeather.com Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams. The total number of times the high reached 80 or higher for March 2012 is now eight.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Bill Deger has more stats on this unusual warm spell.
What is Causing the Unusual Summerlike Warmth?
The jet stream has been located far to the north across central and eastern Canada, allowing mild air to surge into the eastern two thirds of the nation. A large dome of high pressure dominating over the western Atlantic off the East Coast has been acting as a pump of warm air.
"It's now official," journalist @DavidShuster tweeted. "At 81 degrees, and as folks swim in Lake Michigan, this is the warmest March 20 in Chicago history."
"At least two-thirds of the nation could wind up with above-normal temperatures [this spring]," Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team, said late in February. He forecast that there could be the most widespread warmth this spring since 2004.
As temperatures rise through the weekend in the South, so will the risk for heat-related dangers.
While a tropical low is expected to brew into Tropical Storm Cristobal this weekend, the East Coast of the U.S. is being monitored for future impacts -- even if the storm remains well offshore.
Hurricane season is reaching its historical peak; are you prepared?
United States residents may pay higher heating costs this fall as colder air is expected to grip the Rockies and Plains at times and some quick-hitting chilly shots may impact the Northeast.
A swath of steady, soaking rain will slowly shift from the northern Plains to the Canadian Prairies this weekend, making people reach for their umbrellas.
Watch the latest edition of AccuWeather LIVE at 12 p.m. every weekday.
Southern Florida (1992)
Hurricane Andrew makes landfall in southern Florida as a Category 5 storm with wind gusts estimated in excess of 175 mph. Estimated damages exceeded $20 billion, more than 60 people were killed and approximately 2 million people were evacuated from their homes.
New England & North Carolina (1816)
Light frosts did damage in interior low places from New England to North Carolina.
Boston, MA (1851)
Track of tornado - Waltham, Belmont, Arlington (see other 1843 stories around this time). Apparently caused by excessively humid S or SW flow at western edge of a Bermuda high.