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White Christmas Unlikely After Snowstorm Brushes Past Chicago

By Lizzie Schiffman Tufano | December 21, 2012 2:03pm | Updated on December 21, 2012 3:56pm
 Passengers wait at the airport amid flight delays and cancellations.
Passengers wait at the airport amid flight delays and cancellations.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CHICAGO — The good news: Chicago largely escaped the winter storm that tore through the Midwest Thursday and canceled hundreds of flights at Midway and O'Hare airports.

The bad news: Thursday's wintry blast was likely the city's last chance for a white Christmas.

Almost 400 flights out of O'Hare and Midway were canceled after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and dozens more were delayed in anticipation of white-out conditions that never hit the city.

"It just took so long to get cold enough air in here to change [the rain] to snow" David Bleacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, told DNAinfo.com Chicago. "The snow that did fall was a little wetter than we expected.

"When you have wetter snow, it tends to stick and doesn't float around a lot, unlike powdery snow that reduces visibility and can be a problem for travelers," he said.

On Thursday, forecasters predicted 2 to 4 inches of snow, including thundersnow and blowing snow and winds of up to 60 mph. Less than half an inch of the white stuff fell — and there was no accumulation.

ComEd made special preparations in anticipation of power outages, including mobilizing contractor and assistance crews.

The city still hasn't seen measurable snowfall this year, making Friday the 290th "snowless" day and breaking the 285-day record set on Dec. 16, 1965.

"There's a possibility that we could get some lake-effect snow showers that could help to produce some light snow in Chicago area, but it's not looking very favorable at this point," Bleacher said about the likelihood of the white stuff collecting by Tuesday. "But this time of year things can change abruptly."

Bleacher warned drivers to be careful of black ice on the roads following Thursday's storm, and said taller vehicles could be affected by high winds coming off the lake Friday.