Weather in Chicago

When it comes to discussing the weather, Midwesterners have a saying: “If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.” The weather in Chicago is notoriously fickle. The city sees all four seasons – sometimes it almost seems like you can experience them all in one day – but while summers are typically hot and muggy and winters are generally cold and dry, there’s a whole of variation within each season. Always come prepared for anything mother nature might throw at you.

Winter in Chicago
It’s no surprise that late Spring through early Fall are the most popular times to visit Chicago. The city’s biting cold, made even worse by the “wind chill factor” that often drops the temps into negative double-digits, keeps most tourists away from January to early March. But, this can be the best time for budget travelers to visit. Hotel room rates plummet and many properties begin throwing in extras like free nights or theatre packages in an effort to lure guests. Visitors who come at this time will get to see the city virtually crowd-free (with the exception of the days leading up to Christmas) and can take advantage of plentiful free activities, like free admission days at the Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute, and Field Museum, free ice-skating in Millennium Park, and the free Chicago Christkindlmarkt held in December in Daley Plaza. The average highs in January and February range from 32-38°F with lows of 18-24°F, but a cold snap with a week of days with temps below 0°F is not unusual.

Spring in Chicago
Chicago comes alive in the spring, starting with the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March. Weather at this time is typically a crap-shoot. It could be warm, sunny, and close to 50°F or a cold front could move in, bringing back memories of the freezing days of winter. Snowstorms are still possible into early April and it’s not uncommon to see brightly colored tulips in the city’s flowerbeds poking through a fine blanket of snow. By mid-April, days become more consistently warm, with cool nights and frequent rainshowers. By May, the cold days of winter are nearly forgotten as the average temperature soars to 70°F.

Summer in Chicago
Chicago is at its most beautiful during the short, hot, summer. Tourists crowd the city and it seems there is a street festival every weekend. Restaurants open up their streetfront patios and lovers linger over romantic meals. The Lakefront path becomes a hotbed of activity as locals and visitors walk, run and bike along its length. Boats anchor off the shore and the beach becomes the place for the beautiful people to see-and-be-seen as they work on their tans. Average summer highs range from 80-84°F with lows varying from 61-65°F. Though the occasional cold front comes through, most nights are hot and humid and temps can sometimes reach into the mid-90’s. June and August are among the rainiest months, and strong summer storms are almost welcome as they help cool the sweltering city.

Fall in Chicago
Fall is a beautiful time to visit Chicago. Days are warm, with just a bit of crispness to the air, and nights begin to turn cold. The leaves change from green to vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow, and then slowly begin to fall to the ground. Crowds begin to dissipate, yet it’s still warm enough outside to spend time in the open air. There are also still plenty of special events and festivals during these months, including the annual Chicago Marathon, which is held in October, and the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. High temps range from 64-37°F while lows vary from 46-24°F.

Below are monthly average temperatures and rainfall in Chicago.

January in Chicago
Avg High 32°F
Avg Low 18°F
Avg Precipitation 2.17 inches

February in Chicago
Avg High 38°F
Avg Low 24°F
Avg Precipitation 1.77inches

March in Chicago
Avg High 47°F
Avg Low 32°F
Avg Precipitation 3.01 inches

April in Chicago
Avg High 59°F
Avg Low 42°F
Avg Precipitation 3.65 inches

May in Chicago
Avg High 70°F
Avg Low 51°F
Avg Precipitation 3.70 inches

June in Chicago
Avg High 80°F
Avg Low 61°F
Avg Precipitation 4.30 inches

July in Chicago
Avg High 84°F
Avg Low 66°F
Avg Precipitation 3.68 inches

August in Chicago
Avg High 83°F
Avg Low 65°F
Avg Precipitation 3.86 inches

September in Chicago
Avg High 76°F
Avg Low 57°F
Avg Precipitation 3.21 inches

October in Chicago
Avg High 64°F
Avg Low 46°F
Avg Precipitation 2.71 inches

November in Chicago
Avg High 49°F
Avg Low 35°F
Avg Precipitation 3.32 inches

December in Chicago
Avg High 37°F
Avg Low 24°F
Avg Precipitation 2.63 inches