VIDEO: Top 10 Chicago weather events of the decade

ByABC 7 Weather Team WLS logo
Monday, December 30, 2019
VIDEO: Top 10 Chicago weather events of the 2010s
From blizzards to heat waves, look back on the top 10 weather events that defined the decade in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- From blizzards to heat waves, the ABC 7 Weather Team ranked the top 10 weather events that impacted the Chicago area over the past decade.


The largest hail stone to ever fall in the state of Illinois landed in Minooka on June 10, 2015. This hail stone was 4.75" in diameter. Although this is large, the largest hailstone to ever fall in the US was 8 inches in diameter and fell in South Dakota.

2015 PHOTOS: Large hail pelt Chicago area

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Hail in Minooka, Ind. Shared by Ron Caves.


Record rainfall led to a new high crest on area rivers on April 17-18, 2013. The western suburbs saw over 7 inches of rain, which pushed the Fox and Des Plaines River to all-time record highs. Many homes were flooded along the river with water slow to recede.


February 2015 tied for the coldest February on record. You had to bundle up all month long as the average monthly temperature was just 14.6 degrees - a full 13.1 degrees below the monthly average. It also snowed a lot that month, with 26 inches of snow reported.

PHOTOS: Frozen Chicago in February 2015

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Over six inches of rain fell in Chicago on July 23, 2011 - the all-time greatest daily rainfall total on record. The water flooded homes and cars were stranded across the city. The Dan Ryan was even covered with water! What made this event more remarkable was that most of the 6 inches of rain fell in just a three-hour window, which led to extreme flash flooding.


Twelve days before Thanksgiving on November 17, 2013, over 25 tornadoes reported across the state of Illinois and 30 reported in the state of Indiana. The largest, an EF-4 tornado with winds to 190 mph, hit Washington, Illinois. It left a trail of destruction, killing one person and nearly wiping out the whole town. The EF-4 tornado that tore through Washington left $935 million in damage.

WATCH: EF-3 tornado hits Naplate, Ottawa

An EF-3 tornado hit Naplate and Ottawa in La salle County Tuesday night.


This was the first significant February tornado outbreak in the history of Northern Illinois. On February 28th, 2017, 10 tornadoes touched down in Illinois, including an EF-3 with winds around 155mph that struck Ottawa and Naplate. The video of the tornado is breathtaking. In the Ottawa cell, hail the size of baseballs fell. These tornadoes turned out to be deadly, killing 2 people, injuring 14 and leaving a long path of destruction in their wake.

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From winter tornadoes to record spring heat, let's go back to 2012 for the record March heat wave. From March 14th to March 22nd it felt like summer, breaking or tying record highs for almost two weeks. How warm was it? For eight of those 10 days, it was over 80 degrees. That may not seem too warm, but remember that our normal high for that time of year is in the lower 40s.


During the "Polar Vortex" between January 30 and 31st of 2019, Illinois got a new state record for coldest temperature ever recorded. The prize belongs to Mt. Carroll, with an air temperatures that dropped to -38 degrees. Here in Chicago the temperature dropped to -23 degrees! And in Aurora it dropped to 32 below zero. The temperature stayed below zero for over two days until the thaw started, and Chicago recorded its 2nd coldest high temperature ever, with the high temperature on January 30 only reaching -10 degrees.

WATCH: Stunning drone video of polar vortex in Chicago

Watch stunning drone video from the final hours of the polar vortex in Chicago.

#2 - 2015 TORNADOES

In 2015, there were numerous, violent tornadoes. Because of that, we've combined two large tornado outbreaks that happened into our Number 2 spot. The severe weather season got off to a quick start, with the first outbreak occurring in April. On April 9, 2015, 11 tornadoes touched down in Illinois. Six of these tornadoes were spawned from the same supercell, with one of those tornadoes being an absolute monster EF-4 with winds up to 200mph. This tornado was on the ground for 30 miles, from Franklin Grove to Fairdale. This tornado took two lives.

WATCH: EF-4 tornado leaves 2 dead in Fairdale, Illinois

Two women were killed and several others were injured, on seriously, when a tornado ripped through the town of Fairdale, Ill.

The second outbreak occurred on June 22nd, 2015 when a dozen tornadoes touched down in northern Illinois, with 10 forming from one supercell. One of the 10 was rated an EF-3 and had winds up to 160mph. These winds hit both coal City and Braidwood. Thankfully, no one was killed, but 11 people were injured.

WATCH: Braidwood nuclear power plant nearly hit by tornado

On Monday night, a tornado almost hit the Braidwood nuclear power plant southwest of Chicago.


The historic "Groundhog Day Blizzard" takes #1 on our list for crippling the entire region for two days in February of 2011. Who can forget the scene on Lake Shore Drive as the heavy snow shut down the drive with many stranded in their cars. People boarded CTA buses to stay warm until they could be rescued. Winds along the lakefront gusted to 70mph, almost hurricane strength. When all was said and done, 21.2" of snow officially fell at O'Hare, but with all the blowing and drifting, its likely the true number is higher. Still, that snowfall is good for the 3rd highest of all time, dating back to the late 1870s when record keeping began. With the historic precedent and lasting impact felt by this storm, the ABC 7 Weather Team deems it worthy of the #1 spot on our list of the top 10 weather events of the decade.

RAW VIDEO: Groundhog Day 2011 blizzard that crippled Chicago

The blizzard of 2011 dropped more than 20 inches of snow on Chicago, stranding hundreds on Lake Shore Drive.

What do you think? Head to our ABC 7 Chicago Facebook page, or hit us up on Twitter with your take! Tell us your memories of these events or send us some pictures!