Northern Illinois and northwest Indiana were walloped by one of the most powerful winter storms in history between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 2011. An initial period of light accumulating snow occurred from the evening of Jan. 31 into the morning of Feb. 1, including lake effect snowfall over northeastern Illinois. The most memorable period of the storm occurred from the afternoon of Feb. 1 through the early morning of Feb. 2, when a powerful area of low pressure tracked slowly north. During this time, the snowstorm was accompanied by fierce winds, gusting to 50 to 60 mph, and even higher at times. The intense winds and heavy snow reduced visibility to near zero at times and produced widespread snowdrifts of 2 to 5 feet, and a few drifts of 10 feet or more. The storm was powerful enough to generate vigorous updrafts, resulting in lightning, thunder, and small hail.
A similar event on Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2015
While the winds were not as high and visibility was not significantly reduced for as long a period of time, an eerily similar scenario played out exactly 4 years later in Chicago: