As the severe winter storm hits Chicago, we’re providing everything you need to know to prepare for the frigid conditions. Winter Storm Elliott– named by The Weather Channel, a possible ‘bomb cyclone’ is bringing freezing temperatures and high winds for the rest of the week.
With temperatures dropping throughout the day, the city is expected to stay around 8-4 degrees today. Wind chill temperatures this morning are between 35° and 40° below zero, which is better than yesterday which officials noted it could feel more like 13 below zero due to the windchill.
At its worst, it could very well feel as cold as 40 below zero outside with possible snowfall and heavy winds. The combination of snow and strong winds are not only dangerous but will make travel conditions difficult for many.
City officials have warned people to stay indoors and avoid travel today and tomorrow, as the worst of the storm is expected to pass through. This could mean making rearrangements as travel plans could be put on pause.
The storm is categorized as a bomb cyclone, which occurs when a storm drops 24 millibars in pressure in one day. According to CNN, the storm “will bomb out Friday night into Saturday morning, making this a bomb cyclone before entering the Northeast and New England.”
What To Expect Weather-Wise
Chicago will be hit the hardest with The National Weather Service already issuing a Winter Storm Warning for the entire Chicago area. The warning will be in effect until Saturday at 6 a.m. Those in the area can expect snow falling for most of the Thursday through Saturday, which will continue to gain traction from 11 a.m onwards. As of Friday, the Chicago area has only seen about 2 inches of snow– but don’t break out your snow shovels just yet as only 4-6 inches of snow are expected overall.
The real risk here comes from the harsh cold conditions and wind chill as a cold front moves in, with temperatures lowering and wind picking up. This could make it feel exceptionally colder outside, which is why officials urge people to stay indoors. and dangerous wind gusts, making it feel far colder.
Snow and harsh winds are expected to continue Thursday into Friday morning! Wind gusts from 35-45 mph are expected along with whiteout conditions, making it dangerous for anyone on the road! Temperatures are continuing to dip to 6 below zero– though it will feel like 33 degrees below zero!
Doors Are Closing Early
With travel warnings issues and potential hazardous roads, the National Weather Service and the Illinois State Police closed all Secretary of State offices and Driver Services facilities today at 1 p.m. Shedd Aquarium and major museums are also closed, along with the festive Christkindlmarket in Chicago and Aurora. Schools are closed as well– with a full list available here.
The cold has forced Metra to reduce top speeds whick has been causing some delays. The metra is also alternating their schedule due to the cold, running a Saturday schedule on Friday.
How The City Is Helping
Neighborhoods have already seen a fleet of salt spreaders and snow plows around town to clear the streets. While the storm is expected to continue. The weather is leading to hazardous conditions on roadways, with ice and blowing snow along with icy patches and poor visibility. Though the roads have been cleared by snow plows, the freezing temperatures have reduced the effectiveness of the road salt. Be cautious of black ice on bridges and overpasses as well.
City officials are also trying to connect anyone experiencing homelessness with local resources like warming centers, and safe lodging. Chicago Public Library’s are also open for anyone looking to stay warm.
As for keeping people warm, Chicago law requires residential buildings to set indoor temperatures to at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. While the minimum is 66 degrees during other hours, if your building is not at this standard, landlords and building owners can face fines. Residents can call 311 to report inadequate heating and can find additional information here.
ComEdis already anticipating power outages, and is ready to assist should power go out. ComEd customers can text OUT to 26633 (COMED) to report an outage and receive restoration information while customers can also call 1-800 EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661) for assistance– or report outages via the website at ComEd.com or the ComEd app.
What You Can Expect Travel-Wise
For anyone flying out of Chicago within the next few days, please be advised that weather conditions could impact flights. As of now, over 745 flights in and out of O’Hare International and Midway Airports have already been canceled due to weather conditions.
Major airlines are offering changes free of charge. Passengers who need to reschedule, can rebook their flight by a certain date in order to have change fees waived. The following airlines are offering no fee changes:
- American Airlines: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 21 and December. 23
- Southwest Airlines: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 26.
- United Airlines: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 22 and December 25
- Delta Airlines: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 25
- Jet Blue: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 23
- Frontier Airlines: No change fee for scheduled flights between December 21 and December 24
For a full list of delays and updates, click here.
The Rest Of The Weeks Conditions
Expect snow showers in the morning along with harsh winds up to 50 mph and freezing temps as the day is only expected to warm up to 1 degree in total. Yet, officials warn it could feel like 34 degrees below zero. Snow showers are possible on Friday night which will turn into flurries after midnight, with temps as cold as 28 degrees below zero and wind gusts up to 50 mph.
Saturday: temps are expected to be around 10 degrees with snow, wind and flurries a high possibility according to the National Weather Service.
See below in regards to the Bears game on Saturday:
These changes are taking place as temperatures at kickoff time could be under 10 degrees with wind gusts at 30-to-35 miles per hour, making wind chill at a minus 10 to minus 15 degrees. The CTA will also increase their bus service on their #128 bus (which goes to Soldier Field Express from train stations) and the #146 bus.
As for Christmas on Sunday, highs are 13 degrees and sunny! We will keep you up to date should weather conditions change. Stay safe this week!