But the snow is only "part one, and maybe even the easier part" because temperatures will plummet over the next three days, said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center.
"If travel is planned across the area this afternoon and evening, motorists should be prepared to encounter snow-covered roads, and slow travel conditions", the Chicago office said. Freezing temperatures, though not as severe as those in the interior, and snow were forecast in New York, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and New England.
States such as North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa are bracing for some of the coldest weather in years as we round out the month of January. Widespread wind chills are now predicted on American modeling forecasts to be in deep negatives: For example, in Northern Ohio there could be a -40 degree wind chill; In Kentucky, -3 to -12; In North Dakota.
"That's quite unsafe. You're talking about frostbite and hypothermia issues very quickly, like in a matter of minutes, maybe seconds", Hurley said. Temperatures on Wednesday could fall to 30 degrees below zero, and could feel as cold as 60 below because of the wind chill. The phenomenon was popularised during the cold North American winter of 2014, but affects areas of Europe, and Asia as well, with notable cold bursts reported in North America in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989, according to the National Weather Service.
The current record of minus 26 degrees (negative 32 degrees Celsius) was set in 1996. There is also a possibility for a brief round of snow in the city.
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Meteorologists are already predicting record-setting daytime temperatures for cities like Chicago, where the thermometer could hit minus 16 for just the third time in a century next Wednesday.
Even snowplow drivers are having trouble keeping up with conditions Monday. More than 200 flights at Chicago's Midway International Airport were canceled, but only about seven flights were delayed. The stadium said tours, the Lambeau Field Atrium and all its businesses, including the Packers Hall of Fame, were closed to visitors Monday.
In eastern North Dakota, officials have issued travel alerts because of blowing snow.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard.