A powerful Arctic cold front was slated to bring blizzard conditions to several parts of the U.S. this week, lowering temperatures to dangerous levels, dumping heavy snowfall, causing potential power outages and creating anightmare for millions of Americans in the process.
The storm will extend from the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies, the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, and the central Appalachians, the National Weather Service said. It had already hit the Pacific Northwest Tuesday, canceling nearly all flights in and out of Vancouver International Airport, and dumping snow in the Cascades, leading to treacherous driving conditions. There were also dozens of delays and cancellations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to FlightAware.
During the course of the storm, temperatures could plummet by 25 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit in “only a few hours,” the weather service warned.
The storm would bring “bitter cold and dangerous wind chills” to the northern Plains before moving into the central U.S. on Thursday, according to weather services forecasters, when the Midwest could see heavy snowfall and blizzard-like conditions.
Some parts of the Intermountain West and northern and central Plains could see wind chills dropping to 50 to 70 degrees below zero, the weather service reported. The Denver Zoo announced that it would be shuttering Thursday in anticipation of the low temperatures.
The storm could also put a damper on holiday travel Thursday, which the Federal Aviation Administration predicts will be the busiest travel day of the holiday season, with more than 47,000 flights scheduled. Several major airlines had already announced that they would offer vouchers to customers which would allow them to reschedule flights without paying penalties.
The storm front will move south, hitting the Texas Gulf Coast and Florida. Weather Channel Meteorologist Chris Warren predicted that as the cold air drops into the South from Thursday night into Friday morning, it “could potentially” create a “flash freeze, with temperatures below zero, and even around five degrees,” which could make for icy road conditions.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to address how the state plans to handle the bitter cold. In February of 2021,knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Texans for days. That power outage was subsequently blamed for 200 deaths.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also Tuesday signed an executive order in preparation for the storm.
“Missourians should be proactive in their preparations and so should state government, especially during this holiday travel season,” Parson wrote in a statement. “We are signing this order to ensure state resources are available and National Guard members are on standby for any needed response efforts across the state.”
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