For the first time in what seems a long time, today's forecast includes no hazardous weather watches or warnings, no wind chill advisories and, of course, no blizzards.
All in all, it should be a fairly typical winter's day.
The National Weather Service predicts mostly cloudy skies with a 30 percent chance of light snow. Highs are expected to be in the mid to upper 20s, with southwest winds of 10 to 15 mph.
Tonight should be mostly cloudy again, with a 20 percent chance of light snow. Temperatures will be in the lower 20s.
The freezing mark should be broken tomorrow on the upside with highs in the lower 30s. Temperatures will climb even higher over the next few days, with highs in the mid to upper 30s Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
"Right now it's looking like an ideal melting period," said Bill Morris, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago.
Such ideal conditions involve temperatures rising above freezing during the day, then dropping below freezing overnight. This helps regulate runoff so it doesn't overwhelm rivers and sewers, Morris said.
Current snow pack is between 10 to 20 inches deep, but that only translates to two or three inches of water, Morris said. There is also between 10 to 15 inches of frost underground, which could be problematic if it rains because it would force water into streams instead of percolating into the soil.
The combination of snow melt and rain has caused problems in the past. In December 2008, the National Weather Service issued flash-flood watches from central through northern Illinois and northwest Indiana when such a cocktail posed the threat of runoff spilling into streams, rivers, even roads.
Though rain is not in the immediate forecast, some suburban officials are wary about potential flooding caused by "ice jamming." To help prevent this, Will County officials on Friday — for the first time this winter — will begin siphoning water from a cooling pond at the Dresden Power Plant into the nearby Kankakee River, according to Harold Damron, Will County's emergency management director.
Installed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1980s, three pipes will pump warm water into the river so water does not build up behind ice and breach the banks.
"We've had ice jams in the past that have resulted in flooding," Damron said. "This gives us one tool to try to relieve that."
In Naperville, City Engineer Bill Novack on Thursday asked residents to take proactive measures to prevent potential flooding next week, urging them to test their sump pumps, clear off street drains and check storm grates.
"We came together as a community during last week's blizzard, and by working together again we can help mitigate possible flooding issues," Novack said in a release.
Cook County officials were watching river gauges along the Des Plaines River and were ready to notify communities if river levels start to rise, said Robert King, acting director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. King said the county has stockpiles of sandbags to assist municipalities in their responses to any flooding.
"Right now we're not anticipating any (flooding), but it's on our radar," King said. "With as much snow on the ground as we have now, if it suddenly all melted very quickly we could have problems."
Motorists could also have problems as the expected freeze-thaw cycle next week is a recipe for potholes. Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the city has seen about 6,000 fewer potholes this winter compared with last winter.
"But if we see the type of temperature fluctuations that are forecast for the next week or so, we'll definitely be on the lookout," Steele said.
Meanwhile, on the streets of downtown Chicago, pedestrians expressed mixed feelings about the impending warm-up. Torrie May, 31, of Bourbonnais, worried that repeated freezing and thawing would create dangerous sheets of ice. Richard Faulkner, 58, of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, said he was concerned about the environmental impact of snow-melt runoff.
"The amount of salt and pollutants that are going to be flowing into our watershed is going to be amazing," Faulkner said.
But others welcomed the relief.
After the blizzard last week, Lauren Brostowitz, 21, of Roscoe Village, built a 7-by-7-foot igloo in her backyard, but said she would not be disappointed if it melted away.
"I'd rather have it be warm than to keep building my igloo," she said. "The frigid temperatures are just a bit too much for all of us."