City Cast

Urban Almanac: ‘Pneumonia Front’

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on May 18   |   Updated on June 5
Lakefront on a sunny day

Lake Michigan in 2022 (Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto / Getty)

Anyone else outside when the temperature dropped Tuesday? That was a “pneumonia front,” and it was no joke.

What is a pneumonia front? A cold front that comes off Lake Michigan in the spring and summer, causing intense lakefront breezes and plummeting temperatures in minutes.

How was Chicago affected this week? Temps dropped 20 degrees Tuesday evening — along the lakefront and even out by O’Hare.

So what’s with the name? Coined by the National Weather Service’s Milwaukee office in the ‘60s, NBC meteorologist Brant Miller notes the name is a misnomer as it doesn’t have anything to do with pneumonia.

Has this happened before? Yep, it’s common this time of year and isn’t a new phenomenon. The biggest, fastest drop on record was in 1936 when temperatures saw a 27-degree dive in 10 minutes, WTTW reported.

Is another pneumonia front on the horizon? Nothing’s in the forecast — for now.

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