The Chicago area broke not one but two temperature records Thursday as Mother Nature ushered in the coldest air the Chicago area has seen so far this year.
A 79-year-old temperature record for a record low was broken early Thursday morning followed by another record shattered by 4:55 p.m. for a record low maximum.
The air temperature at O'Hare International Airport, where the city's official weather conditions are recorded, was -8 degrees at 6:18 a.m., breaking the existing record low of -7 set on this date in 1936. This afternoon's high temperature of only 4 degrees made the new record for low daytime high temperature of 9 degrees that had been set on the same date.
A Wind Chill Advisory that kicked in at 6 p.m. Wednesday was allowed to expire at 12 p.m. Thursday. NBC Chicago Storm Team Meteorologists predicted wind chill readings during the day could drop to nearly -30 degrees.
Overnight low temperatures on Thursday could range from -2 to -12 degrees with wind chills between -20 to -30 degrees. The record overnight low was also set in 1936, dipping to a chilly -7 degrees.
The Illinois Tollway activated its Zero Weather Road Patrols Tuesday in anticipation of the sub-zero temperatures. The patrols operate around the clock to help stranded drivers when wind chill values fall below zero degrees.
The cold air and northwesterly wind flow will keep the lake effect snow machine going to our east in the Michiana snow belts where a Winter Weather Advisory is posted for La Porte, LaGrange, St. Joseph and Elkhart counties through Thursday evening at 6:00PM.
Between 4 and 8 inches of snow could fall in the affected counties while the area experiences extreme cold temperatures, with wind chill values of -15 to -20 degrees.
Blowing snow could also cause reduced visibility, impacting travel on snow-covered roads.
After a bitter start Friday the cold will ease as warm air advection starts, but this will likely bring increasing clouds and light snow. Saturday brings a shot at 30 degrees, but our attention will shift to a developing storm passing to our south which could bring accumulating snow to Chicago into Sunday.