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Frigid weather to make its first appearance of winter

It feels like winter now that frigid air is gripping Chicago, but it may look like it if the city's snowless streak ends Thursday.

The National Weather Service is calling for sustained low temperatures and subzero wind chills through midweek. And snow could shroud the city Thursday.

"There's still uncertainly on how it plays out," National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro said. "But a lot of the computer models are giving a solution that would bring the first accumulating snow of the season."

After more than 700 days without dipping below zero and about 11 months without a major snowstorm, Chicagoans are about to be reminded that they don't live in Oklahoma. If the current projections hold steady, Thursday could end a record-setting stretch of about 330 calendar days without an inch of snow.

That snow would come after a stretch of extreme cold that's expected to drop wind chills to minus 17 degrees Monday. Temperatures at O'Hare International Airport are expected to dip to minus 1 overnight Monday, which would end the city's fourth-longest streak without a subzero reading. The record of 1,415 days, set in 1940, is about two years away.

This week will be a frosty chapter in a balmy winter that has already seen Chicago bust records for days without a subfreezing high temperature and the latest 1-inch snowfall.

Regardless of whether the mercury finally plunges below zero, Castro said residents would be smart to bundle up and avoid long stretches outdoors.

"It's something we haven't seen since 2011," he said. "Even though Chicagoans have (endured) past cold winters, we haven't dealt with anything like this for a while. So it's going to be a shock to the system."

mtsmith@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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