CHICAGO — The snowfall will take a break Wednesday evening, but expect it back in full force for Thursday's morning commute.
National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss said that the snow will travel near the lake from north to south across the metro area starting tonight, falling at least 2 to 3 inches per hour and producing "white out conditions" where it goes, he said.
"Most places probably won't see a lot of snow, but the places that do will get a lot of it," Deubelbess said.
By Wednesday afternoon, the official Chicago snowfall count at O'Hare clocked in at 3.7 inches, according to meteorologist David Beachler — a number that will ultimately be a bit higher after another count in the evening.
Nearly 300 flights were canceled on New Year's Day in light of weather conditions — a proactive measure by several airlines, according to the Department of Aviation. Delays were an average of 25 minutes, the department said.
Midway also had 25 minute delays for about dozen flights, but no flights have been canceled yet.
Snow will be particularly intense Thursday during the day, starting in the early morning, Deubelbeiss said. The weather service recommends delegating extra time for travel for slick roads.
By the time the snow ends on Friday, downtown could see 5-8 inches of snow, Beachler said. People closer to the lake in Chicago will see more snow than people further west, he said.
That said, these snows near the lake — or "lake-effect snow" — are notoriously difficult to predict, Deubelbeiss said. He recommended that people keep weather forecasts handy at all times for updates.
"The conditions can change very quickly," he said.
Temperatures should remain relatively steady in the low 20s Wednesday and will dip into the teens Thursday.
Saturday will be warmer, with an expected high of 31 degrees. Make your snow angels then, because next week will be chilly after a cold front sweeps in. Monday and Tuesday will have highs just below zero, the service said.
Temperatures have been a bit lower than normal, Beachler said. The occasional warm day in the 30s and 40s has raised the averages, but thus far, this winter has been chillier than usual, he said.
"This has definitely been a very cold winter so far," he said.