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.
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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.