CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicagoland woke up to some of the coldest temperatures in nearly two years on Tuesday, with temperatures hovering around zero–with wind chills around minus 10 to 15 degrees.

Highs on Tuesday are not expected to get out of the single digits and folks will be greeted by below zero wind chills throughout the day.

Temps will rise into the 20s on Wednesday with some light snow developing in the afternoon. On Thursday evening, another system will bring some snow overnight, with some accumulation possible.

The cold is the product of a frigid air mass, the coldest the region has seen in two years, descending over the area.

At 6 a.m., it was one degree, with a minus 13 degree wind chill at O’Hare Airport.

Richard Castro, meteorologist at the weather service’s office in Romeoville, said we’d be looking at a low of around minus 20 if the region had snow on the ground.

“This is actually quite an impressive mass of cold air,” he said. Within the system, temperatures aloft are actually colder than those in the last subzero front that visited Chicago in February 2011.

Castro said the earlier system produced a minus 9 reading at O’Hare Airport on Feb. 10, 2011, the last below-zero reading for the region. It occurred just after that winter’s massive snowstorm with about 20 inches on the ground.

Lack of snow acts as insulation. Castro said that if the incoming weather produces below-zero temperatures, it will mark a rarity for Chicago.

As of Tuesday, the Chicago area has recorded 333 days without a snowfall of at least an inch and 331 days without a snow depth of at least an inch.

There have been eight cold-related deaths in Cook County this season, according to the medical examiner’s office.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed