Afternoon high temperatures in the 40s (slightly above normal), light winds, and abundant sunshine made today a decent late February weather day. Unfortunately, today's weather will be short-lived as a major winter storm looms. Chicago is in the crosshairs of a powerhouse winter storm that is expected to bring gusty winds, accumulating snow, and a combination of snow, sleet, and rain on Tuesday.
This massive storm system has dumped more than 2 feet of snow in Colorado, generated a historic and crippling blizzard over parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and has resulted in severe weather over the Gulf Coast region. It's the second winter storm in a week to have a such a large impact (negative) over the central U.S.
Similar to the previous storm last Thursday, this one will also enter a weakening phase (though not as quick) as it exits the Plains region and heads closer to the Chicago region. Unlike the previous storm, this one will come with a stronger wind field and greater moisture content thus a potentially larger snow producer (dependent upon temperatures). Below are details on what to expect from this storm on Tuesday.
*Timing: Precipitation will begin between 10am CST south (Iroquois, Ford, Kankakee, Benton, Newton, Jasper counties) and 2pm north (Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Kenosha). Precipitation will begin over the immediate Chicago metro between 11am and 1pm CST. Heaviest precipitation will occur between 1pm and 8pm CST. Precipitation will begin to diminish in intensity and become more scattered in nature after 8pm CST. Precip. will begin as a wintry mix of rain, sleet, & snow in the morning/early afternoon before switching to snow (heavy at times) in the afternoon. Heavy snow potential will run from 3-8pm CST.
*Accumulation: Snow amounts will generally range between 2-6 inches with locally higher amounts (possibly). Temperatures will be very critical here. Based off the storm's projected track, intensity, timing of precipitation, and some the latest temp profiles, it appears the the axis of heaviest snows will occur right over the city and areas west/southwest (along I-88/I-290 and points west/southwest). Note: Due to the possibility of some lake enhancement, counties (Lake & Cook) along the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan may also see some of the higher snow totals.
*Coverage: 100% of the area will see snow. About 80% of the area (specifically north of the Kankakee River) will experience more snow than rain. About 20% of the region (from Kankakee River and south) will experience more rain/freezing rain than snow.
*Impacts: While this may not be a major snowstorm based off of projected snow amounts, this storm will still pose high impacts due to the timing of the storm (affecting afternoon/evening rush), the wintry combination (rain/sleet/snow), and winds gusting more than 40 mph at times. Expect moderate to major traffic (air & ground) delays, and potentially hazardous driving conditions (low visibilities & slippery roads).
Additional snow (1-3") is expected across the region on Wednesday as the storm's center circulates over the southern Great Lakes region. Scattered flurries will linger on Thursday with little to no accumulation expected.
To date, February 2013 has produced 74% and 76.5% of all the snow recorded this season at Chicago O'Hare and Rockford, respectively.
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