The much anticipated arrival of an Arctic air mass arrived in the Chicago area late morning and early afternoon Thursday. In four hours, the temperature dropped from 33 degrees to 13 degrees at O’Hare Airport. Midway Airport experienced similar plummeting temperatures. Wind speed increased after the front passed producing wind chill values to near -20 at O’Hare by 8 p.m. Thursday evening when the temperature dropped to 0. While early snowfall totals were much lower than models had indicated earlier in the week, periods of heavy snow accompanied by strong winds and quickly falling temperatures lead to traffic issues and many delayed and cancelled flights at Chicago’s airports. The high winds caused snow to blow and drift.

The Arctic air mass is wreaking havoc across the country. A weather watch and warning map of the U.S. Thursday night showed wind chill advisories from New York to Georgia, hard freeze warnings for the Gulf Coast states, and blizzard warnings from the northern Plains to portions of the Midwest. Areas of the Midwest that were not under blizzard warnings were generally under winter storm warnings. Wind chill warnings stretched from Montana south to Texas and east to Pennsylvania.

The deepest of the cold air will have its impact on the Chicago area from its arrival Thursday afternoon to Sunday. Temperatures moderate only slightly for Christmas Eve and Christmas day with temperatures for most of those two days remaining in the single digits. Wind chill will remain a significant issue Saturday with moderating of the winds occurring by late Christmas day. Monday begins a warming trend with the temperature reaching the low 20s. Temperatures rise more dramatically by Wednesday as they approach 40 with mid to upper 40s expected by Thursday. Well above normal temperatures are expected for the last days of 2022 and first days of 2023.

Sporadic snow chances remain for Friday and Saturday with limited additional accumulation expected. Flurries are possible late Sunday and Monday but no significant snow systems are expected through New Year’s weekend.