The winter storm advisory goes into effect on Thursday at 9 a.m. and lasts until Friday at 9 a.m. Up to five inches are expected in some areas. Most of the snow is expected Thursday night.
"Looks like we could see between 3 and 5 inches in Chicago...Certainly something that we haven't seen this winter, but certainly something that we shouldn't have a problem handling," said ABC 7 meteorologist Jerry Taft.
Along with the snow comes the cold, blustery wind with temperatures dropping throughout the day and wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph.
The first storm warning of 2012 follows on the heels of unseasonably mild temperatures. Chicagoans have been enjoying weather in the 50s for several days now, and was projected for the high on Wednesday.
On Wednesday evening, Illinois Department of Transportation trucks were preparing for the snow.
"We have used significantly fewer resources this year than we have in other years at this point in time. But it's still very early in the winter. We're roughly one third of the way into the period IDOT considers snow and ice season," said Guy Tridgell, IDOT.
IDOT has 465 snow-fighting vehicles at the ready to salt and plow 9,300 lane miles of roadway.
"We have used significantly fewer resources this year than we have in other years at this point in time. But it's still very early in the winter. We're roughly one-third of the way into the period IDOT considers snow and ice season," said Tridgell.
Some things have changed since last February's monster blizzard. There are now median breaks on Lake Shore Drive to prevent a repeat of drivers getting stuck. And the city has a new website, www.Chicagoshovels.org, which gives real-time data on the progress of city snow plows.
The lakefront was a haven for joggers Wednesday night.
"This is gorgeous weather. We're really blessed and kind of spoiled with this kind of weather right now," said Ryan Caturan, jogger.
But soon, the running paths will be more conducive to cross country skiing.
"It's going to be great. Get out your yak tracks. Get out your snow shoes. It's going to be a good day," said Abbey Cullen, jogger.
"It's actually a great workout to go out and run in the snow. And even if they close off the path if the winds are high, there's always an inner path," said Lori McGee-Koch, jogger.
In fact, getting around on foot may be easier than on four wheels, with blowing and drifting conditions possible on the expressways.
At the Home Depot on North Elston, folks were snatching up essentials.
"I thought we've been lucky so far, and I guess we're going to have to pay for this a little bit. But shouldn't be too bad," said Larry Keller.
"I'm not scared. I can do with one month left now. I see we got what, January, February, and March? I'm fine with it," said Earnest Sims.