‘Winter’s last hurrah.’ Snow, freezing temperatures in Tuesday’s forecast

Showers were expected to follow a cold front Monday afternoon, transitioning to snow sometime overnight, possibly around 2 or 3 a.m. Tuesday.

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A pedestrian walks through the University of Chicago campus, after around 2 inches of snow fell in Chicago, Monday, March 15, 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Freezing temperatures and a late-season snowfall are forecast for the Chicago area Tuesday, in what the National Weather Service is calling “winter’s last hurrah.”

Rain showers were expected to follow a cold front Monday afternoon, transitioning to snow sometime overnight, possibly around 2 or 3 a.m., according to Kevin Birk, a meteorologist for the weather service.

“We’ll probably see some snow flying across the area during the day” Tuesday, he said, adding that much of the precipitation may remain a mix of rain and snow.

The heaviest snow was expected south of Chicago, but accumulations could be slushy as surface temperatures hover in the mid-30s, Birk said. Unpaved surfaces could see between a half-inch and an inch of snow, he said.

Although mid-April snow feels unseasonable, this is the usual time of year for Chicago to see its last snowfall. The average last date of a trace of snow in Chicago is April 14, Birk said.

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National Weather Service

“So [late snow] is not unheard of, but it’s obviously getting late,” Birk said.

We don’t have to look back far for other examples of late-season snow.

On April 27, 2019, Chicago was hit with 2.5 inches of snow at O’Hare International Airport, Birk said. The record for the latest spring snow was set in 1966, when two-tenths of an inch of snow fell on May 11.

The weather service has issued a freeze watch for Tuesday night, warning residents to cover sensitive plants to protect them from temperatures in the upper 20s. There’s also another chance of freezing temperatures Wednesday night, Birk said.

Daily highs in the 50s were expected to return by Thursday.

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