Blizzard warning issued as massive storm takes aim


The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the Chicago area as a dangerous storm swooping in from the South could dump more than 18 inches of snow and pack 40 mph winds.

The warning is in effect from 3 p.m. Tuesday until 3 p.m. Wednesday. “Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely,” the weather service said. “This will lead to whiteout conditions, making travel extremely dangerous. Do no travel.”

The weather service called the approaching storm “dangerous, multifaceted and potentially life-threatening.”


Forecasters expect at least a foot of snow over much of the warning area. White-out conditions are expected at times Tuesday night, with snowfall rates of at least 2 to 3 inches per hour possible with northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph and even stronger gusts.

Some areas could see 20 or more inches, the weather service said, particularly along the lakefront where there is a gale warning in Lake and Cook counties in Illinois from 2 p.m. Tuesday until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

High winds could whip up waves 18 to 27 feet high off shore, and water and ice could wash up on Lake Shore Drive, according to weather service meteorologist Richard Castro.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate from north to south across the region Tuesday afternoon with travel becoming “virtually impossible” at times Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, according to the weather service. “Snow is expected to fall so heavily at times Tuesday night that plows may be unable to keep up with the snow, with many side streets and untreated roads becoming impassable,” the weather service said.

Dozens have schools have already told parents they plan to close early on Tuesday.

“The last storm of this potential magnitude to hit Chicago was in Jan. 2, 1999,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist at the weather service. That day, he said, 18.6 inches of accumulation were measured in the city.


The all-time Chicago record was set on Jan. 26 and 27, 1967, when 23 inches of snow fell on the city, Castro added.

Here’s the expected timing:

Snow will increase in intensity and become heavy at times south of Interstate Highway 80 Tuesday afternoon, gradually spreading north into northern Illinois by Tuesday evening.

Snow -- at times heavy -- will continue Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Snow showers will continue near Lake Michigan in northeast Illinois Wednesday morning, shifting into northwest Indiana during the afternoon.

Northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph with stronger gusts are expected to result in blizzard conditions developing Tuesday evening and continuing into the overnight hours.

Light snow is expected to fall starting today, with up to 4 inches of accumulation expected by midday Tuesday. Following that, the more severe storm is expected to move north into the Chicago area from Arkansas late Tuesday and into Wednesday.