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updated: 3/14/2012 8:59 PM

Warm weather snaps record; heat to last all week

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  • After a run in Independence Grove Forest Preserve, Libertyville resident Manny Piller took in some sun while reading and enjoying Wednesday's springlike weather.

       After a run in Independence Grove Forest Preserve, Libertyville resident Manny Piller took in some sun while reading and enjoying Wednesday's springlike weather.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • The warmest day so far in 2012 had Ben O'Brien of Geneva out along the Fox River with his guitar, his friend Don Ross, and Don's German shepherd, Hans, in Bennett Park. Runners, cyclists, walkers and picnickers were out in droves Tuesday as the sunshine made for a glorious day in the Fox Valley.

       The warmest day so far in 2012 had Ben O'Brien of Geneva out along the Fox River with his guitar, his friend Don Ross, and Don's German shepherd, Hans, in Bennett Park. Runners, cyclists, walkers and picnickers were out in droves Tuesday as the sunshine made for a glorious day in the Fox Valley.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Ching Velasquez, who has been delivering mail in downtown Arlington Heights for 24 years, smiles as she sees a familiar face on her route. With the temperature already at 70 degrees Wednesday morning, it was hard not to smile. "I wait every day for weather like this. I love to wear coulottes, it feels so good."

       Ching Velasquez, who has been delivering mail in downtown Arlington Heights for 24 years, smiles as she sees a familiar face on her route. With the temperature already at 70 degrees Wednesday morning, it was hard not to smile. "I wait every day for weather like this. I love to wear coulottes, it feels so good."
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • With the weather feeling more like May than March, nanny Grace Heuer of Arlington Heights plays with Elyse at a Starbucks Wednesday morning in Arlington Heights.

       With the weather feeling more like May than March, nanny Grace Heuer of Arlington Heights plays with Elyse at a Starbucks Wednesday morning in Arlington Heights.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

Today's temperature hit a record high of 81 degrees as of 4:30 p.m., and that heat is not going anywhere as summerlike temperatures could break records in each of the next eight days.

The previous high for March 14 was 77 degrees set in 1995, and the lowest temperature recorded on this date was a bitter 7 degrees in 1993. The historic average high for today is 47 degrees.

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"It's unusual and we're looking at a fairly long string of really warm temperatures well into the 70s" at least through the next week or two, said Ben Deubelbeiss, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Wednesday was the third-earliest 80-degree day in Chicago history, with the earliest coming on March 3 in 1974 and the second-earliest on March 12, 1990, which was the last time Chicago reached 80 degrees in March before Wednesday.

Deubelbeiss warned, though, that even if warm weather lasts through the rest of March, the cold could return in April, when it is possible temperatures will fall below freezing.

"We're not completely out of the woods quite yet, but this will get us through a good chunk of March," he said. "We never really got into winter I guess."

Although the warm weather may tempt many to open the windows, allergy experts suggest otherwise to keep pollen, which is also being recorded at above normal levels, at bay.

Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist at Loyola University Health System's Gottleib Memorial Hospital, has been performing the official allergy count for the Midwest from a station atop the hospital every spring and summer for 18 years and said this year is much worse than normal.

Typically, Leija doesn't start measuring pollen counts until April 15, but he's already been recording counts for three weeks because of the amount of pollen in the air.

The count this morning was at level typically not seen until late April.

This week's warm stretch follows what may have arguably been the mildest winter in recorded history, which contributed to the high pollen levels.

"The winter was very mild, and the pollen is coming out stronger and much earlier than before," Leija said, adding that this has been a problem across the country made worse by air pollution and the current heat wave. "People are suffering quite a bit."

For allergy sufferers, Leija suggested keeping the windows closed, turning on the air conditioning, avoiding exercising or being outdoors early in the morning when pollen counts are highest, and taking any necessary medicines to control allergy symptoms.

The forecast for Thursday predicts a 20 percent chance of rain, but near record-breaking warmth with highs in the mid 70s is likely. The record for March 15 is 74 degrees. Highs in the upper 70s are expected Friday, and in the mid 70s on Saturday. March 16's record is 78 degrees, and the 17th's is 74 degrees.

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