Chicago Weather

When does the Chicago area usually see its first snowfall? Here's a look

According to the NBC 5 Storm Team, the answer could be sooner than you'd expect

NBC Universal, Inc.

Winter is coming, Chicago, but when can you expect snow?

According to the NBC 5 Storm Team, the answer could be sooner than you'd expect.

The average first trace of snow, which is defined as less than a tenth of an inch, arrives Oct. 31. But the average first measurable snowfall, which is defined as a tenth of an inch or more, is Nov. 18.

For those looking for at least an inch of snow or more, the average date for that snowfall is Dec. 7.

But while the averages may signal the potential for wintry weather in the near future, according to the latest prediction from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, this winter season may be on the milder side with lower precipitation, thanks to what the CPC called called a "strengthening El Niño."

In NOAA's recently released seasonal temperature outlook, which offers predictions for Dec. 1, 2023 to Feb. 29, 2024, forecasters are “leaning” toward a warmer-than-normal winter for most of Illinois and Indiana. Additionally, NOAA believes that the typical El Niño pattern of drier-than-normal precipitation levels for the Midwest are expected to hold for 2024.

That level of confidence grows for areas near Lake Michigan, with forecasters saying temperatures will “likely” be above normal for the winter months, including in the city of Chicago.

Most of the Midwest and the northern U.S. will see above-average temperatures, with the greatest confidence that the Pacific Northwest and New England will have a warmer winter, according to the projections released Thursday.

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