Parts of northwest Indiana saw lake-effect snow beginning Wednesday evening, and the rest of the Chicago area saw bitterly cold temperatures arriving overnight as wind chills were expected to plunge up to 15 degrees below zero.
By 6 a.m. Thursday air temperatures at O'Hare Airport had dropped to 7 degrees, but with wind gusts between 15 and 20 mph, wind chills had dropped to -7. Across the Chicago area, wind chills as low as -11 were reported at that time.
According to the National Weather Service, gusty winds and frigid temperatures were expected to have some locations seeing “feels-like” temperatures as low as 15 degrees below zero into Thursday morning.
In suburban Aurora, which had dropped to -11 just before 6 a.m., an overnight warming center opened at the Aurora Transportation Center beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. That center will remain open until 7 a.m. each day, and will remain activated through at least Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, a winter weather advisory took effect at 6 p.m. in Porter and LaPorte counties in northwest Indiana, along with Berrien County in Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. It remains in effect until 5 p.m. CT Thursday.
The areas are expected to be hit with lake-effect snow bands at times overnight hours, with total accumulations between 3 to 6 inches of snow before the system begins to clear out by Thursday evening.
Locally-higher amounts of snow are possible, especially to the northeast of a line that stretches from Portage to Kouts, according to forecasters.
Occasionally-heavy snowfall rates of up to an inch per hour were expected overnight and into Thursday morning, creating hazardous travel conditions.
Breezy northerly winds could also cause huge headaches for travelers, especially during the Thursday morning commute, causing slippery roads and lowered visibility because of blowing snow.
There won’t be much in the way of relief on Thursday, as high temperatures are only expected to reach into the teens for most of the area. Highs are expected to reach into the 20s by Friday, but they’ll stay there for a while, remaining below the seasonal average for the area as a cold air mass settles over the region.