Updated: March 21, 2013 2:19PM
It was a decidedly unspring-like day for the first day of spring in the Fox Valley area.
In fact, the National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the area with the possibility of scattered snow showers Wednesday afternoon into early evening, mainly north of Interstate 80, with light accumulation.
And the cold will continue.
Thursday morning could see wind chills near or slightly below zero.
Morning commuters Wednesday were greeted with 13 degree temperatures at 6:52 a.m. with 17 mph wind that made it feel like 4 degrees below zero, according to measurements taken at Aurora Municipal Airport. Temperatures stayed in the teens Wednesday until early afternoon when the mercury rose to just above 20. But breezy conditions that included gusts of 30 mph that caused wind chills of just 7 degrees.
What a difference a year makes.
Last year on March 20, the temperatures hit its seventh straight record high, topping out at 85 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, shattering previousd records, according to AccuWeather.com.
Record highs would continue with nine in a row with temperatures climbing above-normal for July 4th on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The warm weather continued with 87 degrees being marked the next day, the second highest temperature ever recorded in Chicago for March (the all-time high is 88 degrees on March 29, 1986).
The normal high for this time year in Chicago is 48 degrees., according to AccuWeather.
The high soared to 85 degrees on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, and 87 degrees on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, shattering previous records for these dates. The normal high for this time of year in Chicago is 48 degrees, while the normal high on July 4th is 84 degrees.
On Thursday, March 22, 2012, the ninth record high in row was set in Chicago as the high rose to 83 degrees during the afternoon.
This year, the National Weather Service is predicting highs in the upper 30s and lows in the upper 20s with winds of about 10 mph.
Wintry weather is expected to linger for at least another two weeks.
Blame the arctic jet stream for the unseasonably frigid weather, according to Northern Illinois University staff meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste.
“The main reason is that the arctic jet stream, which stayed north of Illinois last March and allowed very warm air to move in, is coming straight from northern Canada, and dropping into the Midwest,” he said.
Sebenste noted that over the course of the next few days, that jet stream “will actually pull in arctic air down into northern Illinois and the Chicago area. That pattern will not break down until the end of the month at the earliest.”
The freeze will have daytime highs only in the 20s and 30s until Friday, with nighttime lows in the teens.
For the first half of March across Illinois, temperatures are 5.4 degrees below normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel.
Last year, temperatures were 7.3 degrees above average.
If that weren’t depressing enough, Citizens Utility Board communications director Jim Chilsen pointed to Energy Information Administration research showing that Midwest consumers who heat with electric or natural gas can expect to pay 8 to 10 percent more this winter compared with last.
Those snowflakes and sleet we’ve been having are giving some Fox Valley residents a case of spring fever, according to area nurseries.
“Our phone is ringing off the hook and folks are ready to go,” said Heather Prince, assistant marketing manager and horticulturist at The Growing Place in Aurora and Naperville.
“People are so ready to see some color.”