Here's a bright spot on the weather: Nearly 60 percent of the days this month were sunny, way above normal.
February has so far seen 59 percent of the possible sunshine, 13 percent more than normal and 24 percent more than a year ago.
But that was still no match against the polar vortex. Only five days had temperatures above normal, and the month is running 9 degrees below normal, according to WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling.
At daybreak today, it was 7 degrees at O'Hare International Airport with a wind chill of minus 12. The high is expected to be only 9. Normal for this time of year is around 40.
The frigid end to the month should insure that this meteorological winter, which runs from December through February, will rank as the third coldest on record. The only two winters that have been colder were 1903-1904 and 1978-1979.
Meteorological spring, from March to May, will get off to a cold start too. The warmest day in the 7-day forecast is next Wednesday with a high of 24 degrees -- 15 degrees below average, according to the Chicago Weather Center. The 8- to 14-day forecast from the Climate Prediction Center has the Midwest with below average temperatures through nearly the middle of the month.
Beyond that, the longer range forecast for spring continues on the colder than average side.
The ice-covered Great Lakes may be one factor in the cool outlook. About 88 percent of the lakes are covered with ice, the greatest coverage seen since the mid-1990s. Weather forecasters and other scientists who study the Great Lakes and their effect on the climate said the weather likely will stay cooler because of the cold lakes.
The latest arctic blast swept in overnight and will drive wind chills to between minus 15 and minus 25 this morning. Winds gusting at more than 30 mph will make the cold particularly dangerous. A wind chill advisory was in effect until noon today.
After sunset, temperatures will drop below zero under clear skies and lighter winds.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun