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First freeze — and maybe our first snow

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 1:03 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO (MCT) — Chicago saw its first freeze of the season this morning but chances are still iffy whether we will see our first snow.

Precipitation is expected in the south and southwest suburbs this afternoon, perhaps reaching the city by the evening, according to Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.

Some of that may be snow, particularly in the southwest suburbs, he said. "The I-80 corridor and southward is the best chance for snow."

Any snow will likely be mixed with rain, leaving a "light slushy accumulation" on the ground, if anything, Friedlein said.

Chicago residents might see a few wet snowflakes after 6 p.m., he said. Rain and snow are not expected north of the city.

Snow or not, today will feel a bit like winter. Temperatures dropped to 30 degrees at O'Hare International Airport this morning, the coldest so far this season. Romeoville recorded a low of 25 degrees and Rochelle 23 degrees.

"We had a real chilly morning," Friedlein said. "Very impressive for October."

Last year, no snow fell in Chicago until Nov. 12, when the city saw a dusting. The first measurable snowfall was not until Dec. 20.

The frigid air is being carried across Illinois by an "Alberta clipper," a low pressure system that originated over the Great Plains of Canada's Alberta Province. The center of the system is expected to cross central Illinois Tuesday evening, according to the Chicago Weather Center.

Looking ahead, far ahead, the Climate Prediction Center has updated its forecast for the winter. For Chicago, the center said there is an equal chance of winter being colder and snowier than normal or not as cold and not as snowy.

The Chicago Weather Center said that, "after crunching some numbers," this winter could see slightly less snow than average and be slightly warmer than average. The average snowfall for Chicago is 36.7 inches, and the average temperature for a Chicago winter is 47.7 degrees.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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