An early outlook for Chicago's winter

Be sure to enjoy the warm sunshine this week. If you are like me, I try to relish these days while I can because lurking in the back of my mind is the cold and snow that winter will inevitably bring. How bad will this upcoming winter be?

The National Weather Service recently updated their forecast for the winter of 2022-2023. 

There will be at least one more revision to the forecast in the future but for now, this is the best we get from the agency in terms of an outlook.

Unfortunately, the seasonal temperature outlook doesn't give us much of a clue. The outlook covers the months of December, January and February. The winter forecast calls for equal chances of temperatures being above or below average overall. That would suggest near normal or around average temperatures this winter overall. That doesn't mean we can avoid at least a few visits from the Polar Vortex.


Average highs for December 1st start off in the lower 40s and then fall to the lower 30s for the start of January. On average, the coldest stretch of winter is from January 17th through the 23rd with average highs around 31 degrees. February starts off with average highs hitting 32 degrees and the month ends with average highs climbing back into the lower 40s.

The seasonal precipitation outlook suggests we might do more shoveling than normal this winter. It has us "leaning above" average for precipitation. If the temperature outlook is accurate then most of that precipitation would come in the form of snowfall. An average winter sees 29.6" of snow.

Here is the Farmers' Almanac forecast just for fun. It calls for an "unseasonably cold, snowy" winter. Take their forecast with some big grains of salt.

I don't want to skip past the end of summer. Our model has five of the last ten days of summer forecast to be at or above average for high temperatures. That insures this summer will end up above average.

Winter is coming but we still have some summer left and all of fall to enjoy first.