Chicago sees coldest March temp since 2002, on track to break 129-year record

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Chicago is on track Monday afternoon to beat a 129-year-old record for the coldest high temperature for the date.

The city already record its lowest March temperature since 2002 about 5 a.m., when the mercury dipped to minus 3 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. The record was minus 7 on March 4, 2002.

The lowest high temperature on record for March 4 was 17 degrees in 1890, the weather service said. Chicago seems set to break that record, with a high of 12 degrees reported about 3:30 p.m., which forecasters said is “highly unlikely” to rise by 5 degrees before midnight.

The frigid conditions are unusual for March, which typically sees highs near 40 degrees, the weather service said.

The cold temperatures are expected to linger for a few more days, with a high between 17 and 21 degrees forecast for Tuesday and a high of 24 to 30 degrees expected Wednesday, according to the weather service. Overnight lows could drop into the single digits, with wind chill values as low as minus 12 possible from Monday night to Tuesday morning and minus 9 from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.

Thursday will see a high between 26 and 30 degrees with a slight chance of snow, and Friday will see a high in the mid to high 30s, the weather service said.

Despite the uncanny cold for the first week of March, Chicagoans have escaped anything similar to the life-threatening polar vortex from late January.

However, residents are still warned to take measures against risk of frostbite, which could still seep into exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes, the weather service said.