Chicago narrowly misses breaking 112-year-old record for late-season snow

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Weather News

CHICAGO -- Though Saturday's late-season snowfall dumped as much as 6 inches of snow in parts of northern Illinois and about 2.5 inches in Chicago, the storm that featured heavily across social media didn't break any records in the city, meteorologists said Sunday.

The official city snowfall totals are tallied at O'Hare International Airport, where the 2.5 inches fell Saturday. Chicago hasn't had an event with accumulating amounts of snow this late in the spring season since 1989, said Lee Carlaw, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. But 3.1 inches would have been needed to break a record for the most accumulating snow so late in the season, which was set on May 3, 1907, he said.

"It's not out of the question for snow this late in April, but certainly it is unusual to get this much. We'll cross our fingers that this is the last snow event of the season," Carlaw said.

Rockford did set its own record, though.

"The official site at the Rockford airport reported 3.7 inches, and so this is therefore the latest multi-inch snowfall on record for Rockford," he said.

St. Charles in Kane County had the most recorded snowfall in the region, with 6 inches, according to totals tallied by volunteer weather spotters and released by the National Weather Service. Another weather spotter at a different location in the same town recorded 5 inches, demonstrating just how much the intensity of the storm varied based on location.

Other snowfall totals, which are submitted by volunteer weather spotters, showed a wide range throughout the region. They included: 5.1 inches in Roscoe (Winnebago); 5 inches in Wheaton (DuPage); 4.9 inches in Hoffman Estates (Cook); 4.5 inches in Elgin (Kane) and Lake Zurich (Lake); 4.1 in Genoa (DeKalb); 4 inches in Schaumburg (Cook) and Algonquin (McHenry); 3 inches in Elburn (Kane); 2 inches in Oak Park (Cook); 1.5 inches in Naperville (DuPage) and North Aurora (Kane); and 1 inch in Oak Lawn (Cook) and Dixon (Lee).

The town of Lena, Ill., which is just outside the National Weather Service of Chicago's regional reporting area, recorded 7 inches of snow, which was the most recorded anywhere in Iowa, Illinois or Wisconsin, according to forecasters.

The storm also was noteworthy because it produced ice pellets, which Carlaw said are essentially the same thing as sleet.

"That was fairly short-lived, toward the end of the event," Carlaw said, adding that the storm -- which began earlier than originally expected -- ended about 9 p.m. in the western suburbs and midnight to 1 a.m. Sunday for portions of Cook and Lake counties.


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