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'Snowless' Streak Could End Thursday

By Emily Morris | December 17, 2012 11:14am | Updated on December 17, 2012 11:45am
 Snow blankets Millennium Park in December 2006.
Snow blankets Millennium Park in December 2006.
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Getty Images/Scott Olson

CHICAGO — It looks like the city's record streak of "snowless" days might be soon reaching its end.

Weather experts are predicting a powerful storm that could include a messy combination of rain, winds and snow in areas of the Midwest beginning Wednesday and continuing into Thursday.

If the city sees "measurable" snow, or flurries amounting to at least one-tenth of inch, it would break the Chicago's current 286-day "snowless" record, which at midnight surpassed the record set on Dec. 16, 1965.

For much of Wednesday night and the next morning, the city is likely to see plenty of rain, said Stephen Rodriguez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.

That precipitation could transition to a rain-snow mix during a cooler Thursday morning before the real snowfall begins in Chicago that afternoon, Rodriguez said.

Strong winds are also expected to affect the area, Rodriguez said. Experts are continuing to track the system, and the resulting weather is likey to vary depending on the direction it takes, Rodriguez said.

Currently, the system is expected to come up from the southern Plains and cover a large portion of the Midwest, according to a special statement issued by the National Weather Service.

The winds could result in blowing snow, according to the National Weather Service. It is not yet known how many inches of snow could cover Chicago Thursday, Rodriguez said. If the low-pressure system takes a more southernly direction, it could result in more snow for the city, Rodriguez said.

But whether its from winds or snow, "It's going to be a strong system no matter what," Rodriguez said.

The heaviest snowfall would likely occur northwest of the city in areas of northern Illinois and into Wisconsin, Rodriguez said. The storm is expected to let up from west to east Thursday night.

Travelers are cautioned to take care, and the storm is also expected to "significantly" impact travel at Chicago's Midway and O'Hare airports, according to the National Weather Service.