The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch in effect from Thursday evening through late Friday night for Cook County and several other Illinois counties.
The weather service warns that blizzard conditions are possible and winds “could gust as high as 55 mph.”
“Falling and blowing snow may result in white out conditions with zero visibility at times, making travel extremely difficult, if not impossible,” according to the weather service, which notes that there’s a risk of power outages caused by the strong winds.
In addition, the weather service warns that “bitterly cold wind chills as low as 25
below zero are likely during the height of the storm.”
The winter storm watch covers Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Lake, Ogle, Lee, De Kalb, Kane, DuPage, La Salle, Kendall, Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston, Iroquois, Ford, Cook and Will counties in Illinois, as well as Lake, Porter, Newtwon, Jasper and Benton counties in Indiana.
FEMA safety tips
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also issued a news release about the ominous forecast, encouraging local residents to prepare. “If necessary, alter travel plans, remain indoors and follow the instructions of local and state officials to stay safe,” said the FEMA Region 5 release. “Any time you plan travel, monitor local radio and TV stations for updated risk and emergency information.”
FEMA offered the following storm tips:
- If you must be on the road during severe winter weather, take precautions to get to your destination safely. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and essentials on hand before you leave – including a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, food and water. Have those extra essentials for air or rail travel too.
- If you’re trapped in your car, stay inside. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Make sure everyone knows who to call if travel will be delayed or postponed.
If you’re staying home for the holidays, take steps to stay safe there too:
- Prepare for possible power outages by ensuring electronics are fully charged.
- Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
- Check on your neighbors or friends. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.