Weather Updates

Chicago area expected to endure worst winter weather in nation

A man walks by cars stuck Lake Shore Drive February’s blizzard. A long-range forecast says we’re for another rough winter.

A man walks by cars stuck on Lake Shore Drive in February’s blizzard. A long-range forecast says we’re in for another rough winter. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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How can AccuWeather be so specific when forecasting that temperatures and snowfall in Chicago will be particularly harsh this winter?

The National Weather Service’s seasonal outlook is far more vague. But Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist at, said his forecasters look for patterns that occur over years of weather data. They also take into account the warm water pattern in the Pacific called La Nina, and computer models that all forecasters use. While he can’t say how likely it is the forecast will come true, “This method works much better than computer modeling alone,” Pastelok said.

-- Art Golab

Updated: November 15, 2011 12:58PM

Enjoy the nice weather while you can.

Winter’s going to clobber Chicago again, hitting us with colder than normal temperatures and nearly twice the normal amount of snowfall.

That’s according to long-range forecasters at

“People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter,” long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg said.

Forecasters also predict that the Chicago area, not New York, will endure the worst winter in the nation this season.

“The brunt of the winter season, especially when dealing with cold, will be over the north-central U.S.,” said Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team.

AccuWeather forecasts 50 to 58 inches of snow for Chicago, in line with the 56 inches we got last season. But snowfall during a normal winter is closer to 30.2 inches.

And temperatures will be 2 to 3 degrees below normal, also in line with last winter, when it was 2.4 degrees below normal.

However, Pastelok said snowfalls will be more frequent and less heavy — at least early in the season — and will be followed by intense overnight cold snaps.

Later, in January and February, we can expect it to warm up somewhat, but also expect bigger snowfalls.

Pastelok’s advice? Don’t wait to break out the cold-weather gear.

“I think we get a nice warm six to 10 days going on here in October, everyone’s spoiled and then all of a sudden, boom, it turns around. Especially mid-November. I think we start getting cold fast,” he said.

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