Forecasters say season’s first real snow expected Thursday night
Sun-Times Media December 7, 2011 10:14AM
Updated: December 7, 2011 9:44PM
The first measurable accumulation of snow this season could blow into the Chicago area Thursday night, the National Weather Service says. Then again, it might not, putting this season into the Top 5 among latest snowfalls recorded in Chicago.
Already, this season has moved into seventh place on the list of latest snowfalls, tied with 1994, according to weather service records. If we go without any measurable snow Wednesday, this season will be tied with the winter of 1914 at sixth place on the list.
The latest measurable snowfall in Chicago was Dec. 16, 1965. The second-latest was Dec. 14, in 2001, and the third-latest was Dec. 12, 1946.
So far this year, Chicago has only seen a trace of snow and Rockford has only seen 0.1 inches of snow. The chances for any “meaningful” accumulating snowfall looks low through early next week, the weather service says.
Typically, the first measurable snowfall of the year in Chicago occurs around Nov. 21, according to the weather service.
Last year at this time we already had 6.9 inches of snow; in 2009 6.5 inches; in 2008 9.1 inches and in 2006 9.0 inches.
The weather service on Wednesday morning said we very well may see our first accumulation of snow Thursday night into Friday morning -- maybe. An Arctic cold front will sweep across the area in those overnight hours, according to the weather service, which points out that there are still discrepancies between the various computer models, with some indicating little or no snow, while others suggest a band of an inch to possibly two inches.
As of Wednesday morning, according to the weather service, indications were that the greatest threat of accumulating snow will be south of I-80.
The system that is going to affect the region is still near Alaska, and the track could change between Wednesday morning and Thursday night, the weather service cautions.
While this snowfall amount would be fairly minor, the weather service cautions that even an inch of snow could lead to hazardous driving conditions, particularly on untreated roadways.
The lateness of the season’s first snowfall could bode well for conditions we’ll face through the rest of winter. According to the weather service, every one of the years which failed to produce a measurable snowfall by Dec. 5 ended up with below-average snowfall for the winter months (December - February).
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that Chicago’s 2011-12 snowfall will be below average, statistically the odds would certainly tend to favor a less snowy than average winter, according to the weather service.