If Wednesday’s weather system develops as some models suggest, the New Year’s holiday record snowfall of 8.5 inches back on December 31, 1978 – January 1, 1979 could be exceeded. The first surge of snowfall with the winter storm moving out of the plains dropped 2 to 4 inches of snow over the Chicago area Tuesday afternoon and evening with Chicago’s official observation site at O’Hare looking to end up with between 2 and 3 inches.
Wednesday the center of low pressure is forecast to move east through southern Illinois bringing another batch of snow through the Chicago area, starting during the forenoon. There are indications that a meso-low pressure area could develop over southern Lake Michigan – enhancing, enlarging and prolonging the impact of northeast wind/lake-effect snow. Another 6 to 10-inches of snow is entirely within the realm of possibility should this scenario occur.
Once the storm system moves east, lake-effect snow showers could persist well into Thursday with a lull before the anticipated weekend low pressure. Current thinking is that low pressure will probably generate some light snow here – followed by the coldest Arctic cold blast in at least 5 years next Monday.