Chicago Weather: Snow in the forecast, AccuWeather Alert

Greg Dutra Image
Monday, February 15, 2021

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lake effect snow will start after midnight Sunday but likely not shift into Chicago until some time Monday morning.

"The latest models have really converged on significant lake effect snow since such cold air is being dragged over the (relatively) warm open water over the lake," ABC7 Chicago Meteorologist Greg Dutra explained.

The bands of snow will likely be relatively thin, but intense, Dutra said.

The snow could hang around until early Tuesday morning.

"Areas along the lakefront in both Cook County and Lake County Indiana should prepare for 4 plus inches," Dutra said. "It's almost impossible to know where the heaviest snow will fall with these types of events but I wouldn't be surprised if someone along the lakeshore winds up with 6 inches plus."

Preparing for an ice storm: What should you do

Lake Michigan along the city's shoreline looks like a glacier, with more than 90% of it covered in ice. The sight has attracted small, bundled crowds willing to brave bitter temperatures for a glimpse at our urban tundra.

But the cold causes all kinds of problems. A pipe broke at the former Apple store on Michigan Avenue, sending water everywhere and creating a slippery, slushy mess on the street. The dangerous cold on the way poses a direct hazard for anyone outside and drivers on the roads.

Cars themselves also struggle with temperatures like this, especially when buried in snow for days on end.

"Batteries are going off the shelf, tires are blowing out, any fluid that was questionable is starting to freeze,' said Matt Tefka, owner of Fulton Desplaines Garage. "The absolute worst thing you can do to a car in general is let it sit, let alone letting it sit in literally ice and making it become a moving igloo."

The city also said it's working around the clock to try to make sure the most vulnerable citizens are warm and protected.

Considering a forecast that has the city staying below 25 degrees into next Friday, the cold snap will be entering record-setting territory with possibly 15-straight days spent in extreme cold.

A two-week stretch of 25 degree or lower days would place it in the top 10 longest periods ever in Chicago, Castro said. The current record stretch of sub 25-degree days was set in 1899 with a period of 19 days.

While the city might not break that record, there are easier targets. Chicago had a two-week stretch of sub-25-degree days in 2018, and again in 2017. In 1984, the city went through 17-straight days of temperatures below 25 degrees.

Safety essentials for ice storms

The city of Chicago urging everyone to prepare for this weekend's extreme cold. That includes wearing several layers of loose, warm clothing and keeping your head, hands and feet covered outdoors.

RELATED: Winter home maintenance: How to prepare your house for snow, cold

To keep your pipes from freezing, the city recommends letting water drip from your faucets.

If you're driving, have a full tank of gas, flashlights, blankets, snacks and water in your car in case of emergency.

For people without heat, or who don't have adequate shelter from the cold, the city will have two overnight warming centers: One at the Garfield Community Service Center on South Kedzie Avenue and the other at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center on South Cottage Grove Avenue.

Both will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday.

Warming centers open in Pilsen as need for shelter grows during cold weather

In addition, the city has dozens of other locations where people can seek shelter during the day, including at the Chicago Cultural Center, public libraries, Park District locations and local police departments.

To locate a center nearby, residents can call city services at 311 or visit

The city also asking people to shovel and salt in front of their homes and businesses and to check on neighbors.

WATCH: Chunks of ice float in Lake Michigan

Fire officials also remind people to make sure their smoke detectors are working -- citing a recent rash of fatal fires and offering a reminder not to use stoves for heat and to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible.

RELATED: Winter Wonder: What is 'pancake ice' on Lake Michigan, how does it form?

Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.