The National Weather Service says a major snowstorm will begin Thursday, bringing blizzard conditions and dangerous cold that will impact travel in the northern Illinois area.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm watch that is in effect from Thursday morning through late Friday evening.
The storm will impact the western Great Lakes region.
The storm watch covers all of northeast Illinois, including Lake and McHenry counties.
The snow will begin Thursday with travel conditions deteriorating in the afternoon, the NWS said.
A “full-fledged blizzard” will be possible with heavy snow and strong winds Thursday evening, Friday and Friday evening.
Wind gusts up to 55 mph are possible and may cause power outages.
“Falling and blowing snow may result in white out conditions with zero visibility at times, making travel extremely difficult, if not impossible,” the storm watch said.
Snow will subside by Saturday but significant blowing and drifting will continue, the NWS said. Dangerous cold will continue into Sunday.
Bitterly cold wind chills as low as 25 to 30 below zero are likely Thursday night and Friday.
Wind chills of this magnitude can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 20 minutes, the NWS said.
Total snowfall amounts are expected to be at least four to six inches in most of the Chicago area.
The NWS said bitter cold could potentially be exacerbated by power outages and significant lakeshore flooding is a threat.
Forecasters say residents should be prepared to avoid unnecessary travel, stock up on supplies and monitor the weather.