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Chicago faces severe weather threats with tornadoes and golf ball sized hail possible: Live updates

An unusually warm winter will bring severe thunderstorms to much of the country as the Western US is blanketed in heavy snow.

The Midwest and Great Lakes saw record-breaking warmth this week — but with temperatures rising and falling rapidly, severe thunderstorms, golf-ball-sized hail and tornadoes could hit the area in coming days, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Meanwhile, areas of ten states in the West are under winter storm warnings as of Tuesday. California could also see ten feet of snow in mountain areas later this week, according to the NWS.

Avalanche warnings are also in place for parts of Montana. Severe weather has already triggered avalanches this year — earlier this month, emergency crews had to rescue four people after an avalanche hit the Lee Canyon ski resort in Nevada. That same week, a skier in Wyoming was seriously injured after an avalanche carried her 1,500 feet.

These blizzard conditions could sow travel chaos throughout the country. In previous severe weather events, hundreds of flights were cancelled and road conditions became deadly. Last month, a severe winter storm across most of the country killed at least 89 people.

Key Points

  • Areas of ten states under winter weather alerts

  • Two-inch hail expected in Great Lakes region

  • California braces for ten feet of snow in mountain areas

What’s fueling the thunderstorms and massive hail in the Great Lakes region?

18:40 , Katie Hawkinson

As Chicago temperatures approach 75F today, a jet stream and cold front will blow into the Midwest and Great Lakes regions.

As these different air temperatures collide, severe thunderstorms bringing golf-ball-sized hail and even tornadoes could develop Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Chicago could hit 75F today

18:20 , Katie Hawkinson

Forecasters expect the Windy City to hit 75F today. The all-time-high February temperature in Chicago was set at 75F in 1976, NBC Chicago reports, meaning the city could be on track to smash yet another record.

Yesterday, Chicago set a high-temperature record for 26 February as the city hit 71F.

This unseasonal warmth is contributing to the massive storm set to hit the region tonight, as the warm air collides with the cold front passing through.

Hail hit Tennessee before moving northward

18:00 , Katie Hawkinson

The National Weather Service forecasted a hailstorm in Kentucky this morning. The storm comes hours before the Great Lakes region is set to see massive hail — the size of a golf ball or egg — this evening and overnight into tomorrow.

NWS releases timing for massive hail storm in Great Lakes region

17:40 , Katie Hawkinson

The National Weather Service forecasts egg-sized hail will begin to fall in northern Illinois this evening before hitting the Ohio River region late tonight and early tomorrow morning.

The Great Lakes region is bracing for massive hail this evening (National Weather Service)
The Great Lakes region is bracing for massive hail this evening (National Weather Service)

California already expecting more snow as it recovers from massive storm last week

17:20 , Katie Hawkinson

As California braces for up to ten feet of snow in the mountain regions, residents are also recovering from a barrage of floods and mudslides last week.

Road blockages, landslides and toppled trees were reported in and around Los Angeles as rain battered the region. A massive tree also crashed in a Los Angeles neighbourhood last week, damaging parked vehicles and downing power lines.

Portions of the US-101 and Pacific Coast Highway were also blocked last Monday as rainfall intensified and floodwaters rushed onto the major roadway.

Officials clean up a large tree that fell in a Los Angeles neighbourhood, damaging vehicles and power lines on 19 February 2024 (Getty Images)
Officials clean up a large tree that fell in a Los Angeles neighbourhood, damaging vehicles and power lines on 19 February 2024 (Getty Images)

Two-inch hail expected in Great Lakes region

16:55 , Katie Hawkinson

Hail two inches or greater — roughly the size of a golf ball or egg — could hit parts of southwestern Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and southeastern Missouri, the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts.

The hail will come amid severe thunderstorms hitting the region as temperatures rapidly rise and fall following record-high temperatures in the Great Lakes and Midwest this week.

Tornadoes and high winds will also be possible amid these storms, set to begin today.

California braces for ten feet of snow in mountain areas

16:34 , Katie Hawkinson

A high-impact winter storm will hit the Sierra Nevada mountains in central California this week, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The snow will begin to fall on Thursday and last through Sunday. Travel in the area will be “difficult to impossible,” the NWS said, and strong winds may cause air travel disruptions.

Residents should avoid travel if at all possible and carry emergency kits if it is unavoidable.

Areas of ten states under winter weather alerts

16:31 , Katie Hawkinson

Portions of ten states are under winter weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS) as of Tuesday afternoon.

Heavy snow combined with strong winds across these states will create “near-blizzard conditions, resulting in dangerous travel,” the NWS forecasts.

Residents should stay off the roads as snow starts to fall today. Last month, a devastating winter storm that made roads across the country undrivable resulted in at least 89 deaths.

These alerts are impacting Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

Parts of Montana are also under an avalanche warning. Earlier this month, emergency crews had to rescue four people after an avalanche hit the Lee Canyon ski resort in Nevada. Around the same time, a skier in Wyoming was seriously injured after an avalanche carried her 1,500 feet.