Chicago Snowfall Projections

Winter Storm Warning: How Much Snow Could Chicago Area See Thursday?

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

As a winter storm approaches the Chicago area, snowfall projections are being dialed in as the track of that system begins to take shape.

The NBC 5 Storm Team uses two different models to project the amount of snow that will fall during the storm, with the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model (HRRR) and the High-Resolution North American model (NAM) currently showing similar tracks, but different snowfall amounts, from the system.

As things stand Wednesday afternoon, the NAM is showing a significant snowfall event across the area, with the northern suburbs seeing 6-to-8 inches of snow, the city of Chicago seeing between 7-to-9 inches, and areas in Kankakee County and northwest Indiana potentially seeing a foot or more of snow by Thursday night.

The HRRR model still shows a fairly significant snowfall for the far southern portions of the Chicago area, along with northwest Indiana, but much smaller totals in the city of Chicago and in the northern and western suburbs.

Here is what is being predicted so far –

North American Model

Photos: Winter Storm Warning: How Much Snow Could Chicago Area See Thursday?

According to the NAM, most of the snowfall accumulation in the northern suburbs will occur before 9 a.m. on Thursday, with 3-to-5 inches of snow falling across McHenry, Lake, DeKalb, DuPage and Cook counties.

Areas further to the south will see less snow, due to the slow drops in temperature, and portions of Kankakee County and northwest Indiana could see scant accumulations overnight and into Thursday morning.

In the afternoon, however, things change dramatically, with more an inch of snow per hour falling for most of the day in southern portions of the NBC 5 viewing area.

By the time all is said and done, this model indicates that more than 12 inches of snow could fall in Kankakee County in a span of 12 hours, with similar amounts falling in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana.

Parts of LaSalle, Grundy and Will counties could also see up to six inches of additional snow during the afternoon burst of precipitation, while areas in the northern suburbs could see a few inches of additional accumulation during that time.

High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Model

Photos: Winter Storm Warning: How Much Snow Could Chicago Area See Thursday?

This model is predicting a much more tame snow event in the early morning hours, with less than an inch of snow falling throughout the Chicago area.

That does change in the afternoon, but the heaviest snowfall totals will drift to the south under that projection, with the northern suburbs and parts of McHenry and DeKalb counties seeing scant accumulations.

Even the hardest-hit parts of the Chicago-area, still in Kankakee County and into northwest Indiana, would see between 6-to-10 inches of snow during the worst part of the storm in the afternoon.

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