Update 6:45AM CST…
A couple reports over an inch – latest observations with more to come…
Location Snowfall (inches)
Rockford 1.1 inches
Arlington Heights 1.5 inches
Rockdale, Will County 1.1
Beach Park, Lake 2.4
Elburn, Kane 0.5
Oak Park, Cook 0.5
Snow is falling over the entire Chicago area early this morning with reports of under an inch accumulation so far.
Here are a few early reports:
Location Snowfall (inches)
O’Hare, Cook Co 0.5
Rockford, Winn 0.8
Woodstock, McHen 0.8
Elgin, Kane Co 0.5
St. Charles, Kane 0.2
Park Ridge, Cook 0.6
Countryside, Cook 0.4
Carbon Hill, Grundy 0.2
Visibility Update at 6AM CST…
At 4AM CST visibility already had temporarily dropped as low 1 mile at Rockford, a mile and a half at Waukegan and Midway, one and three-quarters mile at Du Page, and 2 miles at the Aurora airport.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect calling for 2 to 4-inches of snow this morning mainly along and north of Interstate-80 in Illinois and extreme northwest Indiana. Lesser amounts of accumulating snow will occur south of Interstate-80. Snow will spread over the entire Chicago area this morning with the heaviest snowfall occurring during and just after the morning commute with snowfall rates of a half-inch per hour or more at times. Conditions will deteriorate quickly with a slow hazardous drive expected – be cautious and travel only if necessary this morning.
The snowfall will continue into the afternoon, but slowly let up from west to east. Winter Weather Advisories continue in effect back to our northwest over southeastern Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa until 6 -9AM CST this morning. Heavy snowfall of 6 to 8-inches has already fallen in portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin early this morning.
Chicago’s next round of accumulating snow should spread into the area from the northwest after midnight tonight – arriving in Chicago during the pre-dawn hours Wednesday. Untreated roads especially could be snow-covered and slick during the Wednesday morning commute – making for slow and hazardous driving conditions.
Snow is expected to continue during the forenoon into the afternoon – ending from west to east - with total accumulations of 2 to 4 inches across the Chicago area.
Note snow is already showing up back to our northwest on the weather radar picture at the top of this page. Winter Weather Advisories calling for 2 to 6-inches of snow overnight are in effect until 6AM Wednesday for portions of southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa and southern Minnesota – shown in the small purple-shaded area just to the right-of-center on the National Watch/Warning map below.
There may be one good fringe benefit from our frigid winter-less lake effect snow. A wind will develop off the lake later tonight. The lake effect snow that may develop will be limited by the lack of open water on Lake Michigan. The latest estimate from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is that just under 90% of Lake Michigan is covered in ice. The portion of the lake that has the most open water is on the east side, well removed from the Michigan shoreline. By comparison, last winter the maximum ice cover on Lake Michigan peaked at just over 20%.
The ice cover on the Great Lakes as a whole peaked over the weekend at a near record of just over 90%. The extensive ice cover on Lake Superior has allowed for access to ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Nearly 80,000 visitors have explored the caves along Lake Superior’s shore since the middle of January. The thick ice has caused some problems though too. The 225 foot Coast Guard icebreaker “Cutter Hollyhock” got caught in a collision with an ore boat after the Hollyhock ran into a thick patch of ice in northern Lake Michigan back in January.
Given the right conditions, more unseasonably cold weather for the next few weeks, it is possible a new record of ice cover could be broken. The previous record was 94.7% set in February of 1979. Both the 6 to 10 day and 8 to 14 day from the Climate Prediction Center call for colder than average temperatures through the middle of March.
The long-term average is just over 51%. The last time ice coverage climbed above 90% was in 1994.
Chicago’s veteran weather observer Frank Wachowski reports 0.2 inch of snow with the lake-effect snow showers this morning – not much – just a dusting, but it has put that station within 0.1 inch of tying the third greatest seasonal snowfall at that location. Frank says the current 2013-14 snowfall total at Midway now stands at 76.9 inches – the third highest at that station and for Chicago was 77.0 inches back in winter of 1969-70.
Sub-zero days tally increases
Earlier this morning our official thermometer at O’Hare dropped below zero for the 23rd day this season. That also puts us in third place with only 24 sub-zero days back in 1935-36 and 1962-63 and the all-time record of 25 sub-zero days in 1884-85 ahead of this year.
Update at 10:20AM CST…
At 10AM satellite still indicates clouds and scattered snow showers forming over the southern portions of Lake Michigan and moving southwest into northeast Illinois and the northwest corner of Indiana. Lowest Airport visibility was at Midway (1-mile) and Lansing (1/2-mile).
At 9Am CST Satellite pictures indicated a wide band of cloudiness moving south-southwest over the southern portion of Lake Michigan into the Illinois/Indiana shoreline and inland several miles. The city of Chicago was mostly cloudy with a light snow falling. Airport observations reported light snow at O’Hare, Midway, Lansing, Waukegan, and Wheeling.
Snow will accumulate from a dusting to an inch or so of very dry, fluffy snow. Streets/highways may become slick in some areas of heavier snow where visibility could temporarily drop under a mile. Not much change is expected for the next couple hours, with improvement anticipated after noon.
At airports away from the city, mostly clear skies and good visibility was observed.
9AM stations reporting snow and reduced visibility:
Location visibility (miles)
Arctic high pressure is firmly in place over northeast Illinois, northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin this morning with widespread sub-zero temperatures reported across the Chicago area. Coldest readings were at Rockford (-11) and Rochelle (-10). Dangerous wind chills in the -15 to -25 –degree range occurred early this morning over the far western suburbs – coldest were DeKalb (-28), Rochelle (-26) and Aurora (-25).
Listing of locations with lowest temperatures and coldest wind chills this morning.
Location low temperature/coldest wind chill
Du Page -7/-21
Gary, IN 8/-9
Valparaiso, IN -4/-14
North to northeast winds have triggered lake-effect snow showers along the Illinois and extreme northwest Indiana Lake Michigan shoreline this morning. A dusting to up to an inch of snow could make driving conditions a little slippery. The showers are developing out over the water/ice and drifting inland.
Check the radar image at the top of this page – heaviest snow showers appear to be falling over the near-in city and southern suburbs at 7AM.CST. Gary, Indiana and Lansing, Illinois have reported light snow since about 4AM CST this morning.
All Winter Weather Advisories have been dropped in the Chicago area, except for Lake-effect snow shower Advisories in Lake and Porter Counties in northwest Indiana. The Winter Weather Advisory for locally heavy snow showers along the Lake Michigan shoreline and inland in those two counties remains in effect until midnight tonight. Even though the lake-effect showers that generated up to 10-inch snows locally this morning have weakened, the strong north to northeast winds down the length of Lake Michigan could cause a new lake-effect plume or showers to redevelop.