A massive winter storm is sweeping across the U.S., making holiday travel dangerous

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Updated December 22, 2022 at 1:26 PM ET

A massive cold snap swept across most of the continental United States on a day when millions of Americans were expected to travel for their winter holidays, sending record cold, gusty winds and danger to states from Montana to Alabama. brought heavy rainfall.

The National Weather Service estimated that most of the US’s 330 million residents had received some kind of winter weather warning Thursday morning. This is an expert in winter ailments, from blizzards, blizzards and ice storms to high winds, wind chills and severe freezing.

In Thursday’s forecast, the NWS warned that “By Friday, record-breaking coldness and life-threatening winds will blanket the eastern half of the country on the Great Plains.”

“This is really a very serious weather warning,” President Biden told reporters Thursday morning in front of a national map of wind and cold forecasts. “This is nothing like the snow days of childhood. This is serious.”

As the cold front moved rapidly, temperatures across the Rocky Mountains plummeted at a record pace. Wednesday night in Cheyenne, Wyoming, The temperature dropped by more than 30 degrees in just 9 minutes.

Governors of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Wyoming have declared states of emergency. In Indiana, Colorado, and Missouri, governors have mobilized the National Guard.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


AFP via Getty Images

President Biden urged Americans to heed local weather warnings and stay home if possible.

In Texas, where a 2021 winter storm overwhelmed the state’s power grid, ultimately killing more than 200 people, cold weather was expected but light rainfall meant the power grid could hold up, officials said. said he expected.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Peter Lake, chairman of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, said, “The grid is ready and reliable.” We expect that there will be sufficient power generation in

On the roads and highways from Wyoming to Missouri, the combination of wind and snow made visibility poor and driving dangerous. Officials in several states, including Colorado and Illinois, have urged drivers to avoid traveling whenever possible.

“Combined with the winds, there will be enough snow to minimize dangerous driving conditions,” said Mike Bardu, a forecaster at the NWS office in Chicago. “It will allow for a fair amount of blowing and drifting, to levels where people could get caught in a drift and possibly be stranded in the current frigid temperatures.”

By early Thursday afternoon, more than 1,800 flights across the United States had been canceled and another 4,200 delayed, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

Denver International Airport recorded a temperature of minus 24 degrees. It was the coldest recorded since 1990, more than about 500 flights — about a quarter of all flights to and from the airport — were canceled on Thursday. Nearly 200 more were delayed.

Chicago was expected to get up to 8 inches of snow on Thursday and Friday, and temperatures were expected to stay below zero overnight.

City officials stressed that crews are working around the clock to keep flights at O’Hare and Midway airports, hubs of major airlines.

“These hardworking people have at their disposal more than 350 pieces of snow removal equipment, more than 400,000 gallons of liquid deicing agent for runways and taxiways, and more than 5,000 tons of salt,” said the city’s Vice Aviation. Director Andrew Velázquez said. .

Still, between the two airports, at least 750 flights were canceled Thursday and hundreds more were delayed.

A traveler sleeps on the floor of Denver International Airport on Thursday morning when the temperature dropped to minus 24 degrees Celsius.

Hart Van Denberg / CPR News


cardiopulmonary resuscitation news

A traveler sleeps on the floor of Denver International Airport on Thursday morning when the temperature dropped to minus 24 degrees Celsius.

In Montana, the sun was out on Thursday as the snow moved east toward the Midwest. But forecasts say frigid temperatures won’t thaw until the weekend.

“It’s very tough out here,” said Lisa Carter, who runs a snowmobile rental business in West Yellowstone. I just don’t go outside.”

Hank Willemsma, a rancher near Dillon, who was expected to hit a high of -13 degrees Celsius on Thursday, said he’s been working to keep his cows’ hay dry in the cold.

“It’s been a harsher winter than we’ve seen in years, but it’s nothing new for Montana. We’ve had cows for a long time, so we know how to get through things like this,” Willemsma said. I was.

Additional reporting by David Schaper of NPR, Chicago, John Hooks of Montana Public Radio, Butte, and Ivy Winfrey of NPR, Washington, DC contributed to this article.

Copyright 2022 NPR. For more information, please visit

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