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How cold was it? We've got some facts for July
By Jamie Sotonoff | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/1/2009 12:00 AM

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On July 1, the high temperature reached 64 degrees and it drizzled all day.

Things didn't get much better after that.

July 2009 has gone down in the record books as Chicago's coldest July in almost seven decades, and the third coldest since the National Weather Service started keeping records in 1872.

How cold was it? It was so cold that:

• The average temperature was 69.4 degrees, the same average temperature as Fairbanks, Alaska.

• The high temperature was below 80 degrees for 14 of the 31 days (45 percent).

• In the early morning hours of July 20, the temperature dipped to 53 degrees.

• With little need for air conditioning, ComEd reports the average electric bill dropped by $25 in July.

• Outdoor pool usage was down. Many pools closed early because the swimmers got cold and left. The Des Plaines Park District, for example, closed its pools at 4 p.m. on 10 days in July.

• Suburban lifeguards worked a below-normal amount of hours, resulting in smaller paychecks.

• Demand is lower for outdoor dining areas. Despite the un-summerlike weather, many people dined outside anyway at Rox City Grill in St. Charles. "People just want to be outdoors," said co-owner Rowena Salas. "They don't know what's coming up. Winter can come early."

What led to July's record cold wasn't extreme cold temperatures, but consistently below-normal temperatures all month long.

To make it feel even less summery, it was cloudy or lightly raining for 16 days in July -roughly one out of every two days.

It never rained much, though. The monthly precipitation was actually well below normal, said Mark Ratzer, spokesman for the National Weather Service. It just cheated us out of summer sunshine.

"Overall, being outside hasn't been that bad," Ratzer said. "People who don't like heat and humidity have kinda liked it."