New Year's Day snaps streak that made 2012 warmest year in Chicago

(MCT) — The first day of 2013 was one thing 2012 was not – bitterly cold.

Following the warmest year on record in Chicago, the new year arrived with a frigid slap as the temperature failed to climb above freezing for first time the since Feb. 25, 2012, a record-breaking streak, according to the National Weather Service.

Tuesday’s weather may have left Chicago-area residents nostalgic for 2012. Last year’s average temperature of 54.5 degrees beat the previous record year, 1921, by 1/10 of a degree, according to the weather service’s interpretation of records that reach back to 1872.

Chicago is also on the cusp of breaking a record for snowlessness. If there is no significant snow before Saturday – and no serious storms are forecast – the city will break a record by going 314 days without an inch of snow on the ground.

No measurable snow fell on the city Tuesday, but 2013’s first day came with a high temperature of 25 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, 7 degrees below the average high for Jan. 1.

The cold was intimidating enough to compel the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to cancel the annual New Year’s Day Canoe Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River. The event was founded 27 years ago by local canoeing stalwart Ralph Frese, who died Dec. 10 at 86.

Though the event was officially canceled, a hardy band of canoeists and kayakers rowed anyway Tuesday, said Andy Cocallasof Libertyville, who took to a canoe. Cocallas said it felt right to honor Frese, and the weather wasn’t bad, considering it was January in Northern Illinois.

“It turned out to be a beautiful day,” he said.

Last year also was the warmest year on record in Rockford since that city became a weather service station in 1906, according to the weather service.