By Jim Hagerty
While this year is the first in a few that Rockford area residents have braved blistering wintry weather on a daily basis, the snowfall total of 47.2 inches is not a record.
According to the National Weather Service in Chicago, 2014, as of Feb. 18, is the 23rd snowiest season since the agency started keeping records in 1905. In the past seven seasons, the average snowfall for Rockford has been 49.07 inches. That includes the 2011-12 total of 24.3 inches and the 72.9 inches that fell in Rockford during the winter of 2007-08.
In the last 21 years, Rockford has averaged 35.5 inches of snow per season. The city’s record snowfall came in 1978-79 when Rockford was blanketed with 74.5 inches. Two major storms, one from Dec. 30, 1978 to Jan. 2, 1979, and a second Jan. 13, dumped 21.8 inches on the Rock River Valley. The Jan. 13 storm continued east, burying Chicago and northwest Indiana under 18.8 inches in what has become known as the Chicago Blizzard of 1979.
With snow has also come bone-chattering temperatures and winds in 2014. Jan. 6-7, temperatures reached 18 below zero with wind chills as low as minus 45. Those marks placed Rockford among the coldest cities in the nation.
Rockford’s coldest day on record was Jan. 10, 1982, when the air the temperature dipped to minus 27.
In Chicago, around 68 inches of snow have fallen so far this season, making 2014 the Windy City’s fifth-snowiest winter on record so far. As more lake-effect snow is produced over Lake Michigan, additional accumulation is expected as the season inches toward spring.
Chicago’s snowiest winter also came in 1978-79. That year, 89.7 inches of snow were recorded.