By Lolly Bowean
8:59 PM CST, December 3, 2012
Temperatures in Chicago hit 70 degrees in December for only the third time in recorded history Monday, prompting Chicagoans to dress like they did a season ago.
So Angela Beata boldly strolled around the city with her legs bare in a miniskirt and her arms out in a silky tank top for the world to see.
"Why not enjoy it?" the 21-year-old Lincoln Park resident said as she strolled along the Gold Coast, traveling from an interview in the Loop. "My coat is in my closet, but it's not buried very far."
Normally, the third day of December brings chilly winds and the need for scarves, gloves and earmuffs in Chicago.
But on Monday, the weather seemed more like September. The temperatures soared to a high of 70 degrees at O'Hare International Airport before 3 p.m., meteorologists said.
In some parts of the region, like Wheaton, Kankakee and parts of the South Side, the temperature rose to 72 degrees, breaking warm-weather records there, officials said.
Throughout the city, residents ditched their coats and jackets and celebrated the warmth. Some walked the streets, carrying their winter gear over their arms, propped on strollers, or with their jackets tied around their waists.
"This is the weather of over two months ago that we're having," said Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist at WGN.
The normal high temperature for Dec. 3 is 39 degrees, he said, and the temperature has only reached 70 degrees in December twice in the 142 years that the National Weather Service has been recording the data: 71 degrees on Dec. 3, 1970, and again Dec. 2, 1982.
The temperature at Chicago's Midway Airport reached 72 degrees — the Southwest Side site's highest December temperature since observations began there in 1928, Skilling said.
According to Charles Mott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, a funnel system located south of the Rocky Mountains pulled up warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, driving the temperature in Chicago up.
Whatever the cause, Johnnie King, 37, left his Old Town apartment in a T-shirt.
"It feels so good," he said with a wide grin. "I like it like this. When I get off work, it'll be late and it won't feel (so warm)."
The weather was so nice, he walked to work.
Sisters Michelle and Jackie Hanrahan took an hour to sit outside at a Gold Coast park and have their lunch in the sunshine.
"This might be our last good day before spring," Jackie Hanrahan, 26, said. "This weather is a surprise for everyone."
But just because it's warm now, doesn't mean it would be much colder later, Mott said.
"We are currently in a warm period, but it will cool off and we'll move toward the normal," Mott said.
It's too early to determine if there will be snow by Christmas, he said. But based on history, it likely will be cold.
"The normal high for Christmas in Chicago is 32 degrees," he said. "Fifty-seven percent of the time, there is no snow on Christmas."
As the warmth fades, the area is expected to see a high in the mid-50s on Tuesday.
Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributed.
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