Winter Storm Warning: How Much Snow to Expect

How much snow the area will see is still unclear, as some models predict more than an inch while others show up to 8 inches in some areas

The majority of the metro Chicago area was under a Winter Storm Warning Friday as the snow was due to continue into Saturday morning.

The first accumulating snow fell Friday evening, with precipitation likely to begin as a rain and snow mix before transitioning to steady snow in the late hours of the night. The Winter Storm Warning went into effect at 9 p.m. and remain active for the area until 3 p.m. Saturday. For Rockford, Belvidere, Oregon, Dixon and DeKalb Counties the warning went into effect three hours earlier at 6 p.m.

Northwestern Cook County is expected to get anywhere between 4 to 8 inches of snow in areas away from the lakefront, with 2 to 4 inches near the lake and in downtown Chicago, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials warned the snow could be heavy at times, making for difficult driving conditions, especially in areas inland. City warmth and wind shift off the lake will help downtown Chicago and areas south to northwest Indiana see more of a rain, sleet and snow mixture which may last until dawn before tapering later off late Saturday afternoon, leaving windy and cold conditions for the annual Magnificent Mile Lights parade.

It appears that the heaviest band of snow will fall in far northern and northwestern counties, just north across the state line where residents could see the potential for 6 to 8 inches of snow accumulation.

On Thursday several counties were issued a Winter Storm Watch for the same time frame. The affected counties include Cook, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Lake, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb and Kane.

The upgraded Winter Storm Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected, with significant mounds of snow that will make travel dangerous. The National Weather Service asks to only travel in an emergency. 

Friday had a sunny but chilly start with highs reaching the low 40s. Rain showers are not expected to develop until just after evening rush hour, slowly becoming a rain and snow mixture until becoming all snow as temperatures continue to drop overnight, dipping into the low- to mid-30s.

Snowplows were on standby across the Chicago area ahead of the storm. The city told NBC 5 they were ready for the first storm with 330,000 tons of salt loaded in plows and trucks read to clear the roadways.

Much of the area will likely still see snowfall Saturday and well through the morning and afternoon hours, before the system lightens to flurries in the late afternoon hours, leaving much of the Chicago area with several inches on the ground. 

After skies clear, get ready for the coldest night of the season Saturday night into Sunday morning. Temperatures will barely reach the 30 degree mark. 

Highs will stay in the low 30s Sunday for a breezy and cold Bears game before returning to the 40s for the start of the work week.

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