CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The winter hits keep on coming for Chicago.
The area is bracing for light snow Saturday afternoon and evening in the midst of a record-setting cold snap, potentially heavier snowfall starting Sunday evening and a bitterly cold forecast for most of the upcoming week, according to the National Weather Service.
As of Saturday morning, temperatures at O’Hare Airport hit 6 degrees below zero, and Midway Airport was minus 3, the weather said.
Temperatures in central Illinois bottomed out even lower at the same time, with Rochelle getting down to minus 23.
West suburban Sugar Grove’s temperature reached 24 degrees below zero, and Rockford broke a record low for the date at minus 21.
Light snow is expected late Saturday afternoon and evening, with up to an inch north of Interstate 88, and one to three inches for south of I-88/Interstate 290. The snow could last three to five hours, hitting Chicago between 3 to 5 p.m.
High temperatures were only expected to reach between 8 and 14 degrees Saturday, the NWS said. As a result, light snow can easily stick and cause slick spots, with motorists told to slow their speed and increase following distance.
The NWS said that there is a chance of greater than six inches of snow possible Sunday night through Monday afternoon. Heavy snow was said to be possible for the north, with moderate snow area-wide and blowing snow Monday afternoon.
Hazardous travel was anticipated, especially for the Monday morning commute, NWS added. Motorists were advised to plan for significantly increased travel times for slippery and snow-covered roads.
Monday will be snowy but looks to have its temperatures go back up into the 20s before facing back below zero by Tuesday, when another Arctic front could bring the longest prolonged cold stretch in at least the last five years, and possibly much longer, according to the weather service.
“Brutally cold” temperatures in wind chills are “very likely” for Tuesday through Thursday, the weather service said Saturday morning. Temperatures were expected to stay below zero that stretch of days, with lows between minus 10 and 20 Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Wednesday’s high temperature could hover near minus 10.
In that same span, the wind chill can reach as low as minus 40 going into Wednesday morning and looks to say minus 20 and below throughout, the NWS said.
The weather service warned residents to plan ahead for what they will be doing for those three days, and if/when they need to be outside how they will ensure their safety. Locals were also told to ensure their homes and vehicles are ready for the extended stretch of cold weather.
The weather service previously noted that with the low temperatures and wind chills, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in as short as a half hour. Anyone outdoors during the prolonged cold should wear both a hat and gloves to lower the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
City, county and state warming centers are available for residents who need to get out of the cold.