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Chicago Weather: Below-Zero Temperatures, Another Round of Snow on Way

By Erica Demarest | February 5, 2014 7:20am | Updated on February 5, 2014 9:07pm
  Meteorologists recorded nearly 6 inches of snow since Tuesday night. Wind gusts rang in at 20-35 mph.
Meteorologists recorded nearly 6 inches of snow since Tuesday night. Wind gusts rang in at 20-35 mph.
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Jack Mongan file photo

CHICAGO — Winter's not going to relent.

The temperature will dip down to 1 below zero by Thursday night before a weekend that will likely bring another round of snowfall with it, according to the National Weather Service.

This comes after a Wednesday during which more than 550 flights were canceled out of Chicago due to seven inches of fresh snow and hefty wind gusts.

Meteorologists have recorded about 7 inches of fresh snow in Chicago since Tuesday night. Wind gusts Wednesday morning rang in at 20-35 mph, creating "whiteout" conditions in some areas.

Though the city deployed its entire snow plow fleet — 287 trucks — roads were slushy and visibility low.

In all, more than 40 cars were stranded in ditches along Chicago-area expressways Wednesday morning, which includes some suburban areas. Since midnight, there have been at least 25 accident reports on those roads.

By noon Wednesday, O'Hare International Airport canceled more than 500 flights, officials said. Midway International Airport canceled more than 50 flights.

Roads had cleared considerably Wednesday afternoon. Plows focused on Lake Shore Drive and main thoroughfares and planned to move to side streets once these were clear.

During the morning commute, Metra reported delays as long as 60 minutes, and some trains were stopped completely. Trains were moving again by lunchtime.

Meteorologists expected winds to die down Wednesday afternoon, dropping to 10-20 mph. Temperatures should hold steady in the 20s, but drop considerably overnight, with lows reaching 2 to 6 degrees below zero. Wind chill will be 10 to 20 degrees below zero after midnight.

During the day Thursday, Chicago should see highs of 6 to 10 degrees, and by Friday temperatures will climb to 13 to 17 degrees. The wind chill both days will be 15 to 25 below zero.

By Saturday, meteorologists are expecting temperatures to hit the low 20s. Snow is also in the forecast.

"When it warms up, it snows," National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Friedlein said.

From Dec. 8 to Jan. 26, meteorologists recorded snow on 27 days — more than half. The city has seen snowfall at least every 72 hours for seven weeks.

"It's very rare," Friedlein said, noting that the last time Chicago has recorded such frequent snowfall was the winter of 1978-79. "That has only happened four other times in Chicago history since 1884."