It's been a mild winter. The Great Lakes have their lowest percentage of ice since 1973. Record go back to 1973.
However, deep research into ship logs show that this may be the lowest cover since the mild winter of 1931-32. Lake Michigan is nearly completely ice-free in the (climatologically) coldest time of the year, a real rarity!
This is important. Iced-over Great Lakes tend to make our springs colder as icy cold weather from the Lakes oozes into the area with any wind from the north to northeast & east.
My thoughts continue to zero on an earlier spring given the La Nina, tendency for warm phases of the MJO & lack of Great Lakes ice.
Afternoon highs today reached 24-30. I say "afternoon" because the actual daily highs tended to occur before 2 a.m. at 30-35, then fell & hit our morning lows before warming up again.
Overall, this averages out to be the second coldest afternoon & night of the winter. Christmas was the coldest.
Lows of 10-18 are likely tonight with frost & clear to mostly clear skies.
We should cloud up tomorrow with highs 28-32 with a southeast wind 5-10 mph.
Some snow showers are possible Sunday morning with less than 1" of accumulation as not all of it will reach the ground. Parts of the area may see some grass whitened & a coating on surfaces
After a lull Sunday afternoon, some scattered sleet, rain, freezing rain & snow is possible by Sunday evening-night.
Highs will run 33-38 with Sunday night lows 30-35 with southeast to east winds 10-20 mph.
The heaviest precipitation is Monday PM through Monday night to early Tuesday.
The wind will really pick up to east winds at 15-25 mph Monday morning to 25-40 mph by Monday afternoon & evening.
The exact storm track is extremely important.
A difference of 30, 40, 70, 100 miles will result in radically different dominant precipitation types.
The NAM model is going for an all-out winter storm with substantial icing & substantial to significant snowfall accumulations:
The Euro & GFS are more for rain south of US 24 through Monday evening, but ice north of 24 & snow along the Kankakee River.
However, both point toward a change-over to ice & snow southward through the viewing area through Monday evening & night.
It keeps the worst of the snow & ice north of 24, but still brings some in for impacts south of there Monday night with issues area-wide Tuesday morning.
So, just be aware a significant storm system is coming with precipitation, heaviest Monday-Monday evening & be prepared for impacts. Know that the biggest impacts look to be later Monday to Monday night & Tuesday morning. Know that winds may gust to 40 mph later Monday to Monday night.
Know that any snow we get in the area will blow around with the wind expected late Monday-Monday night.
Snow is possible Wednesday night-Thursday AM. Accumulation still looks possible with strong east to northeast wind & temperatures in the lower to middle 20s.
With near 1040 mb surface high Friday night with clear skies, even with a high of 27-31 Friday, clear, calm conditions with inversion & potential of freezing fog could bring the coldest night of the winter. The temperatures may be tied with a mid-February cold snap.
Right now, it does not look below 0, but lows of 0-10 are possible.
Two days after that, it looks to rain with a howling southwest to 45 mph & highs in the 40s to 50.
Much, much warmer weather is ahead February 3-10 with rainfall, some t'storms, some severe risk & potentially a period of near/record warmth.
There will certainly be a taste of spring!
Mid-February looks sharply colder with icing event, followed by a snowfall event.
Much, much warmer weather with rainfall & t'storms with even some severe weather is possible in late February.