What to Expect and When as Winter Storm Eyes Chicago Area – NBC Chicago

Experts are urging travelers to consider alternative plans ahead of the Christmas holiday season as confidence in a possible winter storm grows. How much snow can you expect and when in the Chicago area?

Forecasters say a major winter storm is possible across much of the Midwest starting Thursday, but there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty even as new details emerge leading up to the event.

Here’s a look at what we know so far and what to expect:

Thursday morning and afternoon

According to the most recent forecasts, snow is expected to start Thursday morning, although it will not be the most intense.

To mark a change on Tuesday morning, the winter storm watch for some provinces has already been pushed back to Thursday morning. Those counties include: McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle, Kendall, and Grundy.

Things will deteriorate “rapidly” heading into Thursday afternoon, with snow spreading more and getting stronger.

A winter storm watch for Lake, DuPage, Kankakee, Cook and Will counties in Illinois, and Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties in northwestern Indiana, was also moved, now starting Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

According to forecasters, the timing of the intensity was originally later, but new models show “slightly faster arrival of worsening conditions Thursday afternoon.”

The warning warns that “falling and drifting snow can result in white conditions with no visibility at times, making travel extremely difficult, if not impossible.”

“Power outages will also be possible due to strong damaging wind gusts of up to 55 mph,” it states.

Icy roads can increase the dangerous conditions if the temperature drops quickly.

Thursday evening

The intense winter storm is expected to be widespread at this point. This marks the time when it could bring blizzards and is expected to have a “severe” impact on travel.

Friday morning

Major consequences are expected from the blizzard during the day Friday.

Expect heavy snowfall, strong and damaging winds, difficult or nearly impossible travel conditions, and dangerously cold temperatures and chills.

The wind chill is expected to drop around -30 on Friday morning.

Friday afternoon and evening

The winter storm watch is scheduled to continue late Friday evening as the storm and potentially “blizzard-like” conditions continue strong.

Forecasts are unclear on how much snow may actually fall as snow, but the snow is expected to start settling overnight.

Early forecasts so far indicate that the Chicago area could see between 5 and 9 inches of snow, with higher totals possible, especially in northwestern Indiana. Some locations may also see lower totals.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

The snow will begin to lighten early Saturday morning, but dangerous travel conditions will continue all weekend as the dangerous cold continues.

Minimum wind chill of -20 to -30 degrees is expected with highs in the single digits and low teens. Lake-effect snowstorms are also possible in parts of northwestern Indiana, according to the NBC 5 Storm Team.

Difficult and impossible travel conditions may persist, especially in the morning hours on Saturday, as blowing snow and blowing snow remain a problem.

What you need to know if you’re flying this week

About 2.9 million travelers are expected to pass through O’Hare and Midway International Airports between December 21 and January 2, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. However, flight delays and cancellations due to the winter storm can leave passengers stranded and searching for new tickets.

“If you go to the airport and the flight keeps getting delayed and then cancelled, all those seats that were supposed to be taken a few days later are gone,” says travel influencer John DiScala, who runs the travel website Johnny. jet

“I would be proactive,” DiScala said. “Get started now; save yourself a miserable experience. Stay warm. Stay at home or your hotel and then travel.”

As of Monday evening, several major airlines have offered free changes to certain routes. Here’s a breakdown:

  • US airlines: No change fees for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 23
  • Southwest Airlines: No change fees for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 23
  • United Airlines: No change fees for scheduled flights between December 22 and December 25

“In the event that [airlines] offer you a travel waiver where they change your ticket for free at no extra cost and seat you a few days after the storm, get in now while seats are still available, if seats are still available,” DiScala said.

What you need to know if you’re driving this week

Driving may not provide much relief, especially since canceled flights can put more motorists on the road.

AAA expects 113 million Americans — 5.8 million in Illinois alone — to travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, but with several inches of snow, freezing cold and high winds expected, Midwestern roads could be badly affected.

Thursday night through Friday is predicted to be the worst day to hit the road, according to the National Weather Service, with possible snowstorms making travel “difficult to impossible.”

During the 11-day holiday period, AAA expects to rescue 899,000 stranded motorists. Be sure to have an emergency kit in your car, including jumper cables, a first aid kit, a portable phone charger, an ice scraper, extra warm clothing, water and snacks, recommends AAA.

And while the snow isn’t expected to last all weekend, temperatures are expected to remain dangerously cold, thanks to bitterly cold temperatures and even lower wind chill. According to the NWS, cold temperatures can lead to ice on rivers, with an increasing threat of flooding due to river ice jams.

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