CHICAGO - The record-breaking warmth continued across the Chicago area on Wednesday. From the beaches to the zoo, it was a day to pretend that it's not the middle of winter in Chicago.
The mercury hit 68 degrees Wednesday, tying the previous record for February 22 that was set back in 1922. The average temperature this time of year is 37 degrees. The all-time record for a high in February is 75.
With the temperature at O'Hare reaching 60 at 11 a.m., Chicago has now had six consecutive days of temperatures above 60 degrees. That's the longest stretch on record for February and also sets a Chicago record for meteorological winter, encompassing the months of December, January and February.
Warm February tricks plants, trees
Not only have people been soaking up every minute of sunshine, plants and trees have started to react. Trees are starting to bud, and flowers starting to sprout up.
"We are at least 2 or 3 weeks ahead of schedule," said Dorris Taylor, plant clinic manager at Morton Arboretum.
Of course, we know it is going to get colder again. Taylor says not to be too concerned, but there are steps we can do to protect our plants.
"There's maintenance that can be done right now. Get out and cut down your grasses because you want to get rid of some of the dead stuff that's out there," Taylor said. "But really, don't be in a hurry. We still have another two months before we get into the growing season."
And when it does get cold again, plants and trees know to slow down.
"Plants know. They are smarter than we are," Taylor said.
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People running along the lakefront early Wednesday were loving the warm temperatures.
"I think it's great. I just moved from South Carolina, so I am taking credit for this. I think I brought it," said runner Katlin McGrattan.
"This is certainly strange and I'm like well, this is global warming at play, but I am benefiting from it right now and it's nice to be able to run outside and not be freezing," said runner Kristen Robinson.
One brave woman was even spotted going for a dip in Lake Michigan, where the water temperature is an unseasonably warm 39 degrees.
"It's not that cold. I mean, almost there. But, not that cold," Erica Estela said.
Meanwhile, Sean Hunter trained his dogs on the beach without a hat or gloves.
"I've had them in two to three feet of snow and they're just loving it I mean I'm the one who has to bundle up. It's doesn't phase them," Hunter said.
Typically, Joe Amendola of the Chicago Park District would be clearing snow from the beaches, but his truck which has a polar bear painted on the shovel, is being used to groom the sand instead. Amendola doesn't miss the cold.
"I just don't like the snow. The cold weather hurts me, so but when it snows we keep it clean. We gotta keep the paths safe for everybody," he said.
The warm weather has led to the closure of the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park until further notice.
The warming trend is set to come to an end, with highs dipping into the 50s on Thursday and snow possible over the weekend.