CHICAGO - Chicago’s second major winter storm in a week will dump between 5 and 10 inches of snow on Chicago from Saturday to Sunday, bringing with it the possibility of lake shore flooding and high winds, according to the National Weather Service.
The heavy, wet snow entered the area from the south about 3 p.m. and is expected to intensify through the night. A winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday.
By midnight, 5.3 inches had fallen at Midway Airport and 4.3 inches was reported at O’Hare Airport. Since the onset of the storm, Chicago and its surrounding areas have seen about an inch to two inches of snowfall per hour.
"It’s going to be very heavy, wet snow," National Weather Service forecaster Brian Leatherwood said. "So anybody trying to deal with it manually, they need to be careful."
The snowfall should slow after midnight, Leatherwood said, with the storm predicted to move northeast out of the city. The snow is expected to taper off by Sunday afternoon.
With strong wind and low visibility, it’ll all make for treacherous driving conditions and lake shore waves up to 11 feet tall, forecasters warned. Northern and central Cook County will remain under a lake shore flooding advisory until 3 a.m. Monday.
City officials said 287 snow plows were deployed across Chicago Saturday afternoon ahead of the first flakes. More than 315 trucks are expected to be on the roads by Sunday morning.
Leatherwood said the driving conditions will be especially difficult Saturday night.
"I know… some people have no choice, but I would not go out if it can be avoided because it’s just not going to be a good situation," he said.
"It’s going to be challenging just for the road crews to keep up with that amount of snowfall," Leatherwood added. "And then, of course, visibility is going to be limited, it’s going to make it even worse."
When the snow eases Sunday morning, the winds will change from west to east and bring a round of lake-effect snow, which could dump another inch or two on Chicago and south suburban Kankakee.
Leatherwood said the lake-effect snow, which could last until Sunday evening in some areas, will be weaker than the first brunt of snowfall.
The new storm system follows one that hit the area Tuesday and dropped 5.8 inches of snow at O’Hare Airport, the largest snowfall in Chicago since April 2019.
This storm could easily surpass that total, marking a departure from the mild winters the area has seen over the last few years, according to Leatherwood.
"This is one of the bigger ones," Leatherwood said.
Chicago has recorded 11.1 inches of snow so far this season, putting us above the 10.8-inch average, Leatherwood said.
While Tuesday’s storm brought the area up to the average, Leatherwood said, "This storm could put us above normal."