Near-record lows and lake effect snow on tap

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Anyone who thinks it’s cold outside this afternoon is likely in for some temperature shock over the next several days, with a dusting of snow on top.

It was 45 degrees in Chicago at noon Thursday, and temperatures may not get that high again until sometime next Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Temperatures are likely reaching their peak this morning as a cold front is poised to usher in some very cold mid-autumn air… an impressive push of early season arctic air,” a statement from the weather service said.

And that will mean lows in the 20s and 30s at night, and highs barely reaching 40 for the next several days. And that’s without the wind chill.

“Wind gusts to 30 mph have been common upstream, so wind chills will quickly fall [Thursday] afternoon and especially this evening, reaching the teens for wind chills as early as 3-4 p.m. across northern Illinois,” according to NWS.

That strong cold front will bring blustery and colder weather to the area and a potential for near-record lows across much of the area. The record low is 18 degrees in Chicago and 15 in Rockford. The city should see a low about 25 degrees Friday morning, with outlying areas at 20 or below, and “typical cold spots in northern Illinois possibly dipping into the upper single digits,” the weather service said.

Wind chills will drop into the teens to lower 20s by late afternoon, and there could even be a “stray snowflake in the air in the hours behind the front,” according to the Weather Service. Wind chills could drop into the low teens or even single digits by Friday morning.

Lake effect snow will move across the area late Thursday into Friday as the cold air rushes over Lake Michigan, where water temperatures remain in the lower 50s, according to the Weather Service.

As the wind turns north and then north-northeast, the lake effect snow will move east into northwest Indiana, with “light to occasionally moderate intensities,” NWS said.

Snow is expected to start in Porter County, Indiana, after midnight, then move gradually west into Lake County, Indiana, and Cook County through the morning, reaching Lake County, Illinois, in the afternoon.

There could be minor accumulations in areas near the lake, but the band will dissipate into flurries Friday afternoon as winds turn to the southeast.

Accumulations could reach an inch from northern sections of Lake and Porter counties in Indiana to the Chicago lakefront, especially on grassy or colder surfaces, according to NWS.

Friday is only expected to reach the lower to mid-30s, well below the average of 50-52. Friday night will be another chiller, with lows in the low to mid 20s.

Saturday will be dry with a high near 40 and a low near 35 Saturday night. Sunday will again reach 40, but there is a chance of light rain or drizzle. Monday’s high will be 44 and Tuesday’s high could be near 50, with a chance of rain Tuesday evening through Wednesday.