The bitter cold is gone for now, but this weekend could usher in the potential for significant snowfall -- perhaps 10 inches by the time it's over, forecasters say.
Light snow is expected to begin falling this evening. But a period of heavy snow is expected early Saturday morning and to continue until early evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service's office in Romeoville has issued a winter storm warning for the entire Chicago area, effective from 9 p.m. today through 6 p.m. Saturday.
Forecasters are predicting snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour mid-morning Saturday and a total accumulation of 6-10 inches by the end of the snowfall Saturday night.
The weather service has advised that snow-covered roads and low visibilities may make travel hazardous early Saturday morning through the early evening.
The state police this afternoon issued warnings, too.
"The Illinois State Police are asking drivers to monitor changing weather conditions, limit their travels, and be prepared to allow plenty of time to reach your destination," a news release said. "Drivers are also encouraged to put extra water, food, and warm clothing in their vehicle. Please contact your nearest police department if your vehicle becomes disabled or involved in a crash."
"If you decide to drive, please slow down and buckle up. As a reminder, upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, remember to reduce the speed of your vehicle and yield the right-of-way by changing lanes away from an authorized emergency vehicle."
Flights at O'Hare and Midway airports could also be affected.
High temperatures in the 20s are expected today and Saturday and in the teens on Sunday.