Chicago Forecast

Temperatures Set to Plummet as Arctic Blast Takes Aim at Chicago Area for Holidays

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Don't be fooled by the warm temperatures Wednesday. An arctic blast is set to bring a dramatic shift, sending temps plummeting nearly 40 degrees in 24 hours and making for a cold Christmas holiday.

According to current forecast models, high temperatures throughout the area will rise into the low-to-mid 50s, buoyed by winds out of the south throughout the day Wednesday.

Rain is expected to develop during the late morning and afternoon as a cold front approaches.

In the morning hours, temperatures are expected to be warm enough to support rain, but as the front moves through in the evening, temperatures will fall below freezing and occasional snow will be possible, although the bulk of the precipitation will likely have moved off to the east.

Temperatures will fall sharply overnight Wednesday and into Thursday behind the front, with high temperatures Thursday likely registering in the teens and wind chills near 0 degrees.

Cold air from the northwest will continue into Christmas morning, with "feels-like" temperatures on Friday morning falling well below zero. Morning wind chills could drop as low as -10 degrees.

While the holiday wind chills will mark the coldest air so far this month, temperatures won't come close to breaking the record for Chicago's coldest Christmas, set in 1983, which saw a high of -5 and a low of -17. The warmest Christmas the city has ever seen was recorded one year earlier, when Christmas Day temperatures rose to 64 degrees.

Typically, the area sees highs between 30 and 39 degrees for Christmas Day, according to data from the National Weather Service.

The snowiest Christmas was recorded in 1950, when the city saw 5.1 inches of snow.

Chicago on average sees a "white Christmas," defined as an inch or more of snow on the ground, about 41% of the time.

But this year's December has been anything but ordinary when it comes to snow, even though December is historically one of the city's snowiest months.

So far this month, Chicago has only seen 0.7 inches of snow. That's well below the average of 5.2 inches and last year's 8.8 inches.

Things look to warm up slightly heading into the weekend as temperatures rise back into the 30s and near 40 degrees by Sunday.

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