The coldest, hottest and wettest climate on record

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, honors “individuals who have made the greatest sacrifice in the service of the United States,” according to the US House of Representatives. A National Moment of Remembrance is held for one minute at 3 pm each Memorial Day. The holiday takes place on the last Monday of May and is traditionally seen as the beginning of summer.

The AAA predicts that 1.9 million Illinois residents will travel on Memorial Day weekend — about 10% less than in 2019 — and 92% of them would travel by car.

As Memorial Day does not occur on the same date every year, temperature and precipitation values ​​can vary dramatically. Therefore, there are no normal high or low temperatures, or accumulations of rain.

The data is from the Chicago Office of the National Weather Service and measured at the city’s official record location, which is O’Hare International Airport since January 17, 1980. For nearly a century before that, locations around downtown Chicago were Chicago, the University of Chicago and Midway Airport were used to collect the city’s official weather data.

Temperatures tend to drop in the 70s to 80s on Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service.

Chicago experienced its hottest Memorial Day high ever 95 degrees twice on May 28 — in 2012 and 2018. Highs in the 1990s were recorded 10 times on Memorial Day since 1873.

Hot weather may have contributed to a fight between Chicago police and striking steel workers on May 30, 1937, when the high was 23 degrees. Ten protesters were killed, another 60 were injured and 40 police officers were also injured during the “Memorial Day Massacre”.

The highest temperature on Memorial Day was 42 degrees on May 30, 1889.

In 2021, the rise was 70 degrees.

“Despite warnings from authorities of contracting hypothermia from the cold water of Lake Michigan, children were diving.”

Tessa Weinberg, Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2018

Low temperatures for Memorial Day holidays can vary widely, according to the National Weather Service.

Chicago experienced its lowest temperature on Memorial Day – 77 degrees — on May 28, 2012. The high that day reached 95 degrees.

The lowest temperature on Memorial Day was 32 degrees on May 25, 1992.

Tribune reporters wrote that the cold extended to the Eastern Conference playoff series between the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers: “A bad wind in Richfield, Ohio, meant the Bulls’ shots inexplicably missed the basket…”

In 2021, the drop was 54 degrees.

“Indeed, in contrast to previous Memorial Days, the only creatures prone on the beach on Monday were thousands of dead alewives, the only ones picnicking, the dozens of seagulls dining outdoors.”

Steve Johnson and Michael A. Lev, Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1992

Rainfall accumulated in more than 1 inch of precipitation occurred just once since 1873, according to the National Weather Service.

Almost 2 centimeters of rain fell on May 27, 2019 – the wettest Memorial Day in Chicago history.

No rain or just a trace of precipitation fell on 97 of the 149 years — 65% — on record.

“A tornado watch for the region was canceled at around 7:10 pm on Monday, after an afternoon that saw storms with wind gusts of 70 mph or more and 2-inch hail moving through the area.”

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas and Carole Carlson, Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2019

Sources: Chicago National Weather Service; Tribune files and reports

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