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  • Tim McGill

Frigid Forecast With Snow Piling Up

Good News First

The forecast calls for more bitter cold and several chances of snow between today and this weekend. There are reasons for hope though. The sun is now rising about 5 minutes before 7 a.m. and sinking about 15 minutes after 5 p.m. We have gained an hour and 12 minutes of daylight compared to December 21st's winter solstice. We are now only 20 days away from the start of meteorological spring.

Now the bad news...

Sunday's high of 5° at O'Hare was the coldest since the end of January, 2019. Sunday morning's low of -7° was 3° shy of the record low of -10° that goes back 146 years. It was also the coldest morning in a little over two years.

We climb out of the single digits today but barely. Highs today will climb into the middle teens.

No Real Thaw In Sight

We have a slight "warm up" through Wednesday but the warmest highs over the next week are still going to be at least 10° below average. Wednesday's highs will approach 20° before another surge of Arctic air invades to keep us well below freezing through early next week.

Another Round Of Cold Coming

The GFS model temperature anomaly forecast for next Monday morning shows Artic air covering most of the country. The bullseye is in Illinois where temperatures by then are forecast to be around 50° or more below average. The model may modify those numbers a bit like it did with our recent round of Arctic air but it does strongly suggest reinforcing frigid air will be coming next week.

What Snowfall Deficit?

It is hard to believe that just a couple weeks ago we were looking at a significant snowfall deficit compared to average. That was wiped out in the past two weeks and we are going to add more snowfall to our growing surplus with several chances for snow between today and next Monday.

Through Sunday we have seen 27.8" of snow this winter which is now 6.3" above average. The GFS model's meteogram shows light snow for today into tonight, another shot later Wednesday into Thursday and then a long stretch of accumulating snow from Friday night through Monday morning.

The accumulated snowfall meteogram shows the range of snowfall predictions from several models. It shows about an inch or two with today' system and then maybe another inch with Wednesday's system. The real wildcard is our weekend snow. Models have it developing late Friday but possible lingering into early Monday morning. The range right now for this longer stretch of snow is anywhere between around 3" to nearly 8" of new snow.

The GFS model spits out about one to two inches between today and tonight for most areas. The higher end of that range, around two inches or just over, is forecast for areas mainly south of the city.

I ran out the GFS model snowfall accumulation forecast through Monday using the "Kuchera Method" for snowfall estimates. It shows a whopping 9" to just over 20" of total accumulation which includes all snow that falls from today through Monday morning. My standard call for caution with this since it is early and these numbers will probably be changing as we approach the weekend. It does appear that there will be significant amounts of snow between now and the end of this weekend though.

Cold Keeps Coming

This colder pattern we find ourselves in will probably continue for most of the country well into February. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has the Chicago area outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 13th through February 17th. The darkest blues, or highest probabilities for colder than average temperatures, remains centered over the middle part of the country. The longer range 8-14 day forecast continues to keep us outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 15th through February 21st. The probabilities fall just a bit but the signal is still strong. The only part of the country with probabilities favoring above average temperatures is southern Florida.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) forecast keeps this February frigid here through the end of the month and keeps the colder air coming into the start of March. The forecasts for both the week ending February 26th and the week ending March 5th have us favored for below average temperatures overall. The bullseye is again centered right over Chicago and the Midwest.

A Look At Longer Range Precip Pattern

Our active pattern may continue just past the middle of this month. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for above average precipitation overall from February 13th through February 17th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast has us outlooked for around average precipitation overall from February 15th through February 21st.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Cloudy, light snow (mainly this afternoon into early tonight) High: 13

(1" to 2" total accumulation between today and tonight with the higher end of that range mainly south of the city)

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 2 High: 15

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, light snow late Low: 7 High: 19

Thursday: Light snow early, mostly cloudy Low: 8 High: 18

Friday: Mostly cloudy, light snow late Low: 6 High: 15

Saturday: Cloudy, light snow Low: 5 High: 16

Sunday: Cloudy, chance of light snow Low: 3 High: 15



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