With west-northwest winds gusting over 30 mph, a thick snow cover and the core of frigid Arctic-source high pressure settling over our area, life-threatening -50 to -60 degree wind chills are expected Chicago area-wide later tonight into Thursday morning. Stay inside as much as possible, but if outside dress in layers, protect against hypothermia and cover your face, nose, ears, hands – any exposed skin because frostbite can develop in just 5 to 10 minutes.
Temperatures will steadily fall tonight reaching the negative 20s across our area by early Wednesday morning, breaking the old January 30 record low of -15 at Chicago and -19 at Rockford. Most highs on Wednesday will be in the negative teens, likely breaking not only the record coldest high temperatures for January 30, but all-time record cold high temps at Chicago and Rockford. Occasional light snow and blowing snow will make for icy spots on north-south roads and highways.
Wednesday night into Thursday wind chills in the -45 to -55 degree range are likely – winds will die down, but very cold temperatures heading into the overnight hours will mean even colder temperatures early Thursday morning, when readings could drop through the negative 20s well into the negative 30s in colder spots. We could see Illinois’ all-time coldest temperature record (-36 degrees at Congerville, IL January 5, 1999) broken right here in northeast Illinois.
Wind chills will improve Thursday afternoon, the same time clouds and snow move into our area from the west.