70-degree temps Monday just shy of record - New York News

70-degree temps Monday just shy of record

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Monday's spring-like warmth may have left area residents doing a double-take before shedding that scarf and hat, but it fell short of breaking weather records in Chicago.

The high temperature, officially recorded at 70 degrees at O'Hare Airport, was just one degree shy of the day's record, set in 1970, according to the National Weather Service.

Still, the unseasonal warmth marks only the third time since record-keeping began in 1871 that Chicago saw a 70-degree day in December. To boot, Monday was warmer than 18 of the 92 days in June through August of 2009, the weather service says.

Only six days -- including today -- have reached 70 degrees in Chicago during meteorological winter, or the months of December through February.

However, Rockford's high of 69 degrees sets a new record for the day and for the month of December for that city.

Our warm-up ultimately comes from a stubborn low pressure system spinning in the Gulf of Alaska -- the same storm causing extreme rain in Northern California, said NWS Meteorologist Richard Castro.

"When you have that system there in the Gulf of Alaska, that floods most of the country with very warm air because all the cold air is locked up in Canada," said Castro.

But don't put that winter jacket into storage just yet, forecasters say.

"The front that's coming through with some showers this evening will put an end to the extreme warmth for tomorrow, but it will still be well above normal for December," Castro said.

Tuesday will bring highs in the mid-50s, before dropping to lows around 30, according to the weather service. Wednesday will bring a punch of cold air, with highs in the lower 40s, but the end of the week should return to slightly above-average temperatures, Castro said.

We may not see a return to December's usual chill until early next week, he said.

As for Monday's 70-degree stunner, "It's probably the last bout of unbelievable warmth we'll have in 2012 which has been marked by so many warm days," said Castro.

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