Storm watch issued as system bears down on Chicago

For the second time in less than a week, the Chicago area is in line for a snowstorm that promises a mixture of freezing rain, sleet and snow with enough accumulation to bring out the snow shovels.

Early predictions from the National Weather Service pegged the potential snowfall at about 3-6 inches, about what the storm left the end of last week. But the weather service says it's still unclear which areas will be hit with what: If the temperature is above freezing, there will be less snow, and if it's below, there will be more.

The weather service has issued a winter storm watch from Tuesday morning through the evening.

The weather service said the snow will start sometime after midnight Tuesday morning, with freezing rain turning to sleet to wet snow by early afternoon. With winds gusting about 35 mph, some of that snow will drift and made Tuesday a bad day on the roads.

The track of the storm is over the Texas panhandle northeast and through Missouri and southern Illinois and central Indiana, the Lake Erie area early Wednesday. North of the low pressure path, winter storm watches are in effect from late Monday through Tuesday from Missouri through northern Illinois, the southeastern corner of Wisconsin, extreme northern Indiana and much of Lower Michigan.

In the Chicago area, there could be heavy snow of 6 inches or more Tuesday generally north of Interstate 80, with northeast winds at 25 to 35 mph whipping and blowing the snow, according to the Chicago Weather Center.

Rain, a period of freezing rain and sleet will spread north out of central Illinois early Tuesday, changing over to a heavy wet snow in the Chicago metro area and across the far west through north suburbs into southern Wisconsin.

A combination of freezing rain, sleet and snow will cause hazardous driving across northern Indiana Tuesday. The precipitation will be all snow across Illinois later Tuesday.

According to the Chicago Weather Center, February has been an unusually snowy month during a winter that has been unusually snowless. Through Saturday, there has been 10.1 inches of snow, about 136 percent of normal, while the winter's total has been 13.6 inches, way below normal.

Midwest roundup

A wind-driven snowstorm blanketed eastern Colorado on Sunday, creating blizzard conditions on the High Plains and prompting the cancellation of 200 flights in and out of Denver International Airport, authorities said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered all non-essential state workers to report to work two hours later than scheduled on Monday to give Denver snow plow drivers more time to clear city streets.

By early evening, 10 inches of snow had accumulated in the Denver metropolitan area, as snowfall tapered off. Blizzard conditions will remain through the night on the eastern Colorado plains, weather forecasters said.

"It's still snowing out there and there's been a lot of blowing and drifting that's made the roads tough," National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Gimmestad said.

The Denver International Airport remained open but travelers could expect delays of up to two hours as crews de-iced departing aircraft and plowed the runways, said spokeswoman Laura Coale. The airport typically handles about 1,500 flights on a Sunday.

A deep, low-pressure system near the Four Corners borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah had stalled, dumping heavy snow in eastern Colorado, the weather service's Jim Kalina said.

"That setup makes it a snow event mostly for areas east of the Continental Divide," Kalina said.

Reuters contributed

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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