Weather Updates

Blizzard watch in effect, could drop 18 inches of snow in city

Falling snow covers back Mark Vainisi  while he his brother David Young shovel sidewalk front their home Tinley Park

Falling snow covers the back of Mark Vainisi while he and his brother David Young shovel the sidewalk in front of their home in Tinley Park, Illinois, Thursday January 27, 2011. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 1, 2011 1:37AM

A major snowstorm is being predicted that could bring 18 inches of snow or more to the city by early Wednesday.

At 11:34 a.m. Sunday a blizzard watch was put into effect for the entire northern Illinois and northwest Indiana area, according to National Weather Service metrologist Richard Castro.

“Based on the current information, 16-22 inches of snow could fall in the area,’’ Castro said early Sunday afternoon.

As many as 18 inches or more of snow could fall near the city, he said. The snow should begin accumulating Tuesday afternoon, fall at a rate of 3 inches per hour, and end by early Wednesday.

Two weather systems -- strong low pressure over Texas that is moving northeast and “very strong arctic high pressure’’ -- are to blame for the severe forecast, Castro said.

“Very strong’’ winds as strong as 20-30 mph, gusting up to 45 mph, are also forecast Tuesday night into early Wednesday, Castro said.

“We will have blowing and drifting, causing blizzard or white-out conditions for a time,’’ Castro said.

By Wednesday afternoon northerly winds will continue that could prolong the snow over northwest Indiana, causing some “potentially significant” lake effect snow, Castro said.

The temperatures will remain in the mid 20s for the high until Wednesday. But by Thursday, it will become “sharply colder,’’ with temperatures only reaching 10 degrees on Thursday.

Castro said the last time a snowstorm of this magnitude occurred was in Jan. of 1999.

“That storm dumped 19 inches of snow to the area,’’ Castro said.

“Snowstorms of this potential magnitude are not very common for this part of the country,’’ Castro said.

The snowfall record for this area remains the 23 inches that fell during the “infamous storm” in January of 1967, he said.

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