Dangerously cold temperatures will envelop the midwest this weekend, bringing below-zero wind chills for several days in Chicago’s worst cold snap in two years.
The deepest freeze is expected Saturday night through Tuesday.
Wind chills could reach minus 20 to minus 30 degrees, and temperatures may not rise above the single digits until after Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“We’re going to be much colder than normal, with highs only reaching the normal minimum temps,” weather service meteorologist Rafal Ogorek said.
Even after Tuesday, the cold was expected to linger for several more days.
Extended cold snap (coldest since late Jan 2019 but likely not that extreme!) on the way Friday through much of next week. A few or more rounds of fluffy snow also possible starting Sat PM. Near to sub-zero lows & well below 0° wind chills possible at times. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/I0xeWttZIA— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) February 3, 2021
It may be the coldest weather in Chicago in two years, Ogorek said. But it wouldn’t be as brutal as the January 2019 cold snap that saw temperatures plummet to minus 23 degrees.
Goodbye, above-average January
January was abnormally warm and snowy. The month was 5 degrees above normal, clocking in an average of 29.2 degrees, according to the weather service. Persistent cloud cover last month may have kept the weather from becoming “overly cold,” Ogorek said.
Last month was also the 10th snowiest on record in Chicago, the weather service said. After two major snowstorms in less than a week, O’Hare Airport recorded 21.9 inches of snow in January — about 11 inches above average.
An active weather pattern as of late will also turn significantly colder this weekend into early next week. Confidence is increasing in widespread sub-zero lows, with single digit highs possible. Good time to brush up on cold weather safety! https://t.co/9Sv6zy4s3r #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/R7Fbg5dyaE— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) February 2, 2021
The deep freeze was expected to bring a slew of dangers to the area: icy roads and sidewalks, river ice jams and the threat of frostbite and hypothermia.
2 more rounds of snow
Two snow systems were expected to hit Chicago in the next week. The first system will hit Thursday night into Friday morning, with strong gusts whipping up snow and ruining visibility. Snowfall could range from 2 inches in the south suburbs to 5 inches in the northwest suburbs, Ogorek said.
Of equal if not greater impact to travel later Thu will be increasing winds resulting in blowing snow Thu eve through Fri A.M. The blowing snow will be most pronounced in open areas, resulting in sharply reduced visibility. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts! #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/fNomFT7G1E— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) February 3, 2021
Another period of snow Saturday night into Sunday morning could also affect visibility and travel, according to Ogorek, although it was too early to forecast how much snow was expected.
Wind gusts will play a large part in making temperatures unbearable this weekend, Ogorek said. Gusts may peak at 40 mph on Thursday and will waver throughout the weekend.
“When you have cold temperatures and strong wind, that can certainly result in hypothermia and frostbite, especially without proper clothing,” Ogorek said.