CHICAGO — Weather experts warned a strong weather system could put Chicago in its path Tuesday, but the impact of potential snow, sleet and wind depends on how temperatures pan out.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for the Chicago area that warns of wet snow mixed with sleet starting Tuesday morning and through the afternoon. Snow could be heavy at times before becoming lighter in the evening, the weather service warned.
The city is likely to see blustery winds of up to 40 mph near the lake, National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi said.
But snow accumulation, if any, will depend on temperatures, meteorologists said.
"There is a lot of uncertainty," said NWS meteorologist Casey Sullivan. "Several inches of snow are probable. There's a possibility that part of the metro area will see six inches or more."
The winter storm watch will be in effect from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The early hours of the storm will likely be a mix of wet snow with rain or sleet possibly accompanying it.
Warmer conditions later on could mean very little snow, while low temperatures could mean flurries that make visibility difficult for drivers.
"It could be an absolute disaster for rush hour," if temperatures plunge, Izzi said. Chicago could see accumulations of about 3 inches, though Izzi said that's on the higher end of estimates. Suburbs could get more snow, according to the weather service alert.
But it's also possible that temperatures could reach into the upper 30s, leaving the city to deal with winds and rain, but no snow, Izzi said. There's a 100 percent chance of precipitation Tuesday, according to the weather service.
The system is coming from states like Oklahoma and Texas and making its way Northeast, Izzi said.
The rest of the week looks to be "dismal and dreary," with cloudy skies and possible light snow accumulation, Izzi said.