A powerful winter storm bringing snow and ice across the Great Plains and upper Midwest promises to disrupt travel this weekend and bring a reminder of the season's fiercest qualities -- except in Chicago.
Winter seems to be on vacation in the Windy City, and balmy conditions will continue at least through Sunday, when temperatures are set to reach 61 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service.
Winter, which began in the U.S. on Dec. 21, has yet to show up in Chicago in any meaningful way as dreams of a white Christmas melted away. Since Dec. 22 the temperature has topped 50 degrees or more each day, just the ninth time that's happened since 1871, the service said. A daily record high of 61 was set on Dec. 26.
In contrast to weather appropriate for wearing shorts this weekend, Chicago's neighbors to the north and west will be dealing with winds, ice and snow by the foot in places as the storm tears through the Great Plains and upper Midwest.
A mild and dry December is what brought on Chicago's delayed winter. Only five days in December had temperatures below normal. The arid air has meant no snow and "without snow on the ground, locking in colder air, any cold surge has been temporary," the weather service said.
Things might get back to normal for Chicago by late Monday, though, when temperatures are set to fall into the 20s for the first time since Dec. 20 and a chance of snow is in the forecast.
The "potent" winter storm will intensify as it shifts across the Plains and into the Upper Midwest this weekend, the weather service said. Heavy snow and blowing snow with areas of freezing rain further south will cause slippery roads and reduced visibility along and north of the storm track.
Areas of freezing rain also will become possible over eastern New York and interior New England by Sunday.
Few flight issues have emerged across the U.S. as travelers head back from their Christmas vacations. Denver International has the worst of it so far, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
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