Blizzard Set To Hit Chicago Sunday

November 25, 2018 - 10:28 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A blizzard began blasting through the Chicago area Sunday afternoon, causing white-out conditions and dumping up to a foot of snow as millions of travelers head home at the end of the holiday weekend.

A blizzard warning will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Monday across much of northern Illinois, with the storm expected to “create life threatening travel conditions” Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. During the storm, heavy snowfall and wind gusts up to 50 mph are expected to impact the area.

With up to a foot of snow expected to fall in the northwestern part of the city and suburbs, the storm could break a 123-year-old record for biggest snowstorm in Chicago in November. Right now, the biggest storm on record dropped 12 inches on the city between Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 1895, according to the weather service.

RELATED: Up-To-The-Minute Weather Forecast

As of about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, many parts of the city were experiencing “thundersnow” – an unusual phenomenon where thunderstorms hit with temperatures cold enough to produce snow, according to the weather service.

The weather service advised Chicagoans to put off outdoor activities like snow blowing and shoveling to avoid potential lightening strikes during the storm. The last time Chicago experienced a thundersnow storm was in 2011, the service said.

Slightly warmer air was blowing off Lake Michigan Sunday night, preventing snow from accumulating in lakefront areas. Two to five inches were expected to accumulate in areas near the lake and on the South Side by the end of the storm, the service said.

NWS Chicago

Snow could fall as quickly as two inches per hour and cause periodic life-threatening blizzard conditions through 4 a.m., with the heaviest snowfall expected in the northwest suburbs. As of 6 p.m., seven inches of snow had fallen in north suburban Rockford, breaking the record for the heaviest snowfall in Rockford in November. The previous record was 6.6 inches in 1995, the weather service said.

Downed tree limbs and power lines were expected to cause power outages throughout northern Illinois, the weather service said.

Conditions were expected to be the most severe from through 4 a.m. Monday south of the city, and through 2 a.m. Monday toward the west, according to the weather service.

Drivers were advised to use extreme caution on snow-covered roads with reduced visibility when rainfall begins turning into heavier, wet snow.

“This storm is expected to hit at a time when millions of people are on the roads, heading home after visiting friends and family,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in a statement. “Please take all necessary precautions, including altering travel plans to leave early or asking yourself if your trip can wait.”

NWS Chicago

Holiday travelers were already facing delays and cancellations at both of the city’s airports as the storm pushed into the area.

The Chicago area was also reporting tens of thousands of power outages — 5,932 of them in the city as of Monday 12:45 a.m.

As of 10 p.m., 749 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airport, while 421 others were facing delays, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. At Midway International Airport, 124 flights had been canceled and 88 more were delayed.

Delays at O’Hare were averaging about 32 minutes, while delays at Midway were averaging more than 15 minutes, the CDA said.

The National Weather Service published a “traveler’s guide” Sunday evening, warning motorists that driving during a blizzard warning is “not advised.”

“We urge you to postpone non-emergency travel,” the weather service said on Twitter.

NWS Chicago

Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications advised drivers to travel with “essential items,” like jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, traction material, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, a cellphone and a mobile charger.

Cook County’s Department of Transportation and Highways also advised drivers keep items like flashlights, a battery powered radio, matches, small candles, water bottles, necessary medications, and extra batteries, socks, mittens and hats in an emergency kit in their vehicles.

Lakeshore flooding was expected to coincide with the storm, which could create waves as high as 16 feet in Cook County, the weather service said.

NWS Chicago

Due to the conditions, the U.S. Coast Guard advised people to stay off of Lake Michigan and away from beaches and other areas near the shore.

“Unsuspecting waves can sweep you into the Lake,” Master Chief Alan Haraf said in a statement. “Once that happens, high waves, churning waters and hypothermia, which will set in quickly, can make it nearly impossible to get out of the water alive.”

“Due to the high waves predicted, first responders will not be able to launch rescues crews on the water,” added Haraf, who noted that 39 people have already drowned in Lake Michigan this year.

On Sunday afternoon, temperatures are expected to reach 39 degrees before dipping to the low-30s at night, the weather service said.

Monday’s forecast calls for partly sunny conditions and a chance of more snowfall, the weather service said. Daytime temperatures are expected to stay above 30 degrees before falling into the teens during the nighttime hours.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire & Chicago Sun-Times 2018. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)