Christmas weather: The winter storm blasting the US is snarling holiday travel and bringing record-breaking temperature drops

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A massive Arctic blast has sent temperatures plummeting to dangerous levels in many parts of the country, and a developing “bomb cyclone” is expected to bring down heavy snow and blizzard conditions in the Midwest, especially on Thursday and Friday. is set to for Christmas.

Cold and storms affect nearly every state in some way. A winter weather warning for snow and ice conditions was issued on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service, with more than 110 million people from coast to coast.

Cold weather warnings were also in place for more than 90 million people from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and from Washington to Florida, with frigid temperatures recorded as far as Texas on Thursday morning and expected to reach the Southeast by Friday. increase. .

“Life-threatening chilly winds on the Great Plains will blanket the eastern half of the country by Friday,” the Weather Prediction Center said — parts of southern Montana had already dipped below minus 50 degrees the day before. Dakota and Wyoming where cold winds were reported.

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In some cases, temperatures plummeted at record-breaking rates. In Denver, he dropped 65 degrees in 16 hours from Wednesday (50 degrees) to 5am Thursday (minus 15 degrees). The hour-long 37-degree plunge at Denver International Airport is his largest one-hour descent tentatively recorded. National Weather Service in boulder.

Meanwhile, snow has hit parts of the west, with snow expected over much of the eastern half of the country over the next two days.

Especially in the Midwest and Great Lakes, we’re experiencing massive snowstorms. Widespread light to moderate snowfall, but strong winds can make travel impossible.

“Heavy snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour and gusts in excess of 50 mph will result in near-zero visibility and significant blizzards and snow drifts,” the forecast center said.

The storm is expected to become a “bomb cyclone” Thursday night through Friday, reaching pressures comparable to a Category 2 hurricane as it moves into the Great Lakes.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, more than 1,700 flights were canceled across the US on Thursday, disrupting air travel in the middle of the busy holiday season.

Many highways between Colorado and Wyoming were closed Wednesday as visibility on the roads was reduced to near zero. The Wyoming Highway Patrol said it responded to about 800 service calls in 12 hours on Wednesday, telling drivers to stay off the road.

In South Dakota, more than 100 vehicles were stranded on snow-covered roads in poor visibility Wednesday night, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

Residents of the Sunshine State are expected to see a sharp drop in temperatures on Friday, and even Florida will be unforgiving. Some southern cities, including Nashville and Memphis, are expected to see snow on Thursday.

Meanwhile, parts of the Northeast, including Washington and Philadelphia, could see flooding as rain falls on Thursday and temperatures plunge overnight, bringing about a “flash freeze.”

President Joe Biden received a weather briefing Thursday morning at the White House from the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He encouraged Americans to heed the warnings of local authorities and stay safe in the face of extreme cold.

“This is a really, very serious weather warning,” Biden said, adding that the White House has reached out to 26 governors in the affected areas.

There was already snow from Colorado to Michigan Thursday morning

Snow and high winds are expected to make travel from eastern Montana and the northern Plains to the Midwest and upstate New York state treacherous.

A blizzard warning — meaning snow and winds of 35 miles per hour will often reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile for at least three hours — hit Thursday morning for parts of the country, including just southwest of Minneapolis. issued in the region. Just south and east of Chicago, west and north of Michigan.

Snow is expected in Chicago around noon.

Major cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Detroit have received winter storm warnings.

More than 30 states from Washington to Florida issued cold weather warnings, warnings and advisories on Thursday.

The Arctic front moves south into the Gulf of Mexico, sweeping the East Coast by late Friday, bringing cold to the deep South.

Daytime temperatures on Thursday can stay below freezing in the northern plains and barely above it in the central plains.

Further south – Texas and the Gulf Coast – temperatures will be in the single digits to the teens on Thursday night, the Storm Prediction Center said.

Officials in several southern states have warned residents to take precautions. Alabama warned Thursday and Friday that “the coldest December air mass since 1989” was likely to hit the state, the state emergency management agency said. Friday lows in that state were expected to range from the single digits in the north to the low 20s in the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards asked residents on Thursday to check on friends and family who may be struggling in frigid temperatures. Friday and Saturday lows were expected to be in his teens and his 20s.

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