CHICAGO – On this first full week of February, warmer-than-average temperatures are the story.

We’re back to mild Pacific air after a weekend that averaged nearly 6 degrees warmer than the weekend before.

The warmer air is so pervasive across the country that national snow coverage has fallen from more than half to just over a third of the lower 48 stats in just the past few days.  And the 36.1% Lower 48 snow coverage is well off the season high of nearly 60% of the continental U.S. only 11 days ago.

The warmer temps will go to work on the ice on Lake Michigan which now covers 14 percent of its surface -a season high to date – but only percent of the 50-year average for this time of year.

We’re also enjoying days that produce 67 minutes more daylight than back on December 21, our shortest day and the first day of astronomical winter. We’ll pick in another 58 minutes of daylight in the remainder 3 weeks of February and of the meteorological winter season.

This above-average stretch will continue as we’ll see temps in Chicago come in 18 degrees warmer than last week and an eye-catching 7 degrees above normal. Those temperatures continue next week with readings then predicted to be more than 7 degrees above normal.

One trade-off for the warmer temps is a more active precipitation period with a series of storms coming our way.  Rain with the first system comes in Wednesday night into Thursday as a storm lifts out of Texas that’s likely to pass over Chicago. 

Colder air that’s still above normal sweeps in behind that system Thursday and Friday and there are indications a second storm could lift into the area as well.  At that time, temps would be cold enough for snow, but details on the second system must still be clarified. 

At its least, it would produce a period of snow of little consequence, but if it were to come into the area in a more intense fashion, it could be more important as a potential snowmaker. It’s just something to watch as we’ve got plenty of time to refine our view of that system.

The early read into next week brings two or three systems into the Midwest. While an above-normal temperature regime will be in place much of the week, modestly colder air in the back half of the week drags the critical rain/snow line closer to us.  That flags at least several of next week’s systems as one to monitor as potential snowmakers nearby, if not here in Chicago. 

There are indications a colder weather regime could lock in the weekend which follows, so winter’s certainly not over yet.


TONIGHT: Clouding over with late night rain showers developing amid temps which rise to within striking distance of 50 in the hours just past midnight—then fall back to a low of 35 Tuesday morning.

TUESDAY: A good deal of cloudiness but with breaks developing for some mixed sunshine. Unseasonably mild. High 47—a reading 15-deg above normal.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, modestly colder. Low 30—but mid 20s colder inland locations.

WEDNESDAY: Turning cloudy and mild. High 44—but wind shift southeast off Lake Michigan later in the day lowering shoreline temps.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY: Rain developing and continuing into Thursday. Rain could mix with some wet snowflakes before tapering off later in the day in far northwest sections as winds shift westerly and usher lower temps later Thursday morning and afternoon. High 42—but falling into the 30s.

FRIDAY:  Cloudy and colder. Chance of snow over at least part of the area by afternoon into Friday night.  High 34.

SATURDAY: Sunshine returns, seasonably cold. Gusty early winds ease. High 35.

SUNDAY: Partly cloudy, turning breezy and milder. High 41.

MONDAY: Clouds and mild. A few brief showers or sprinkles may dot the area—especially in the morning. High 44.