For millions of Americans across much of the country, the holiday week begins with relentless sub-freezing temperatures, and Tuesday and Wednesday are made even more miserable by the heavy snow expected in some central and northwestern states.
More than 25 million people are under cold wind warnings across much of the central and northwestern United States, including places exposed to blizzard conditions by a separate storm system last week.
On Tuesday, the expanding weather system is bringing dangerously cold temperatures and snow to most of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, where high temperatures will remain below freezing, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service.
Forecasters warn that it’s very cold, with freezing in less than 10 minutes in most affected areas and less than five minutes in some isolated locations.
“In addition to the brutally cold temperatures, dangerous wind chill values of 35 to 55 degrees below zero are possible in these areas by the end of the week,” the Weather Forecast Center said in a statement on Monday.
Wind chill warnings are in effect for Sioux, South Dakota, and Fargo, North Dakota, Tuesday, as frost hazards begin to set in. Wind chill, which shows how the wind feels, will drop to 40 degrees below zero.
“Starting tonight, the worst of the arctic air mass will reach our region, bringing dangerous temperatures and cold winds. Slippery roads will continue Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning with additional snow buildup,” he said. weather service office in Glasgow, Montana, He said Monday night.
Snowfall has already begun in Seattle, which was given a winter storm warning on Tuesday. The storm will move east to parts of Idaho Tuesday morning and then spread to northern and central Montana in the afternoon.
As the storm moves east this week, it will make holiday travel difficult if not dangerous in many places as forecasters urge people to be prepared to make changes.
In Minnesota, the weather service in the Twin Cities has urged residents to be wary of a “potentially hazardous weather week,” and the worst of the effects in the Midwest will begin Wednesday.
“As a result, travel will be very dangerous and MAY BE LIFE THREATENING this weekend, so be prepared to change your travel plans now!” the local weather service office said.
Many local governments in the affected areas have opened warming centers to provide assistance to those in need.
Overall, most of the US is expected to see abnormally cold temperatures this week. In fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of the country, excluding Hawaii and Alaska, will see temperatures below freezing.
In Montana, Helena and Missoula are under winter storm warnings from Tuesday, and Billings is under cold wind warning through noon Friday.
The storm is also expected to intensify as it approaches the Midwest, where the biggest impacts are predicted. Snow will begin in the area on Wednesday and will continue for most of the Christmas weekend.
In central Minnesota, several inches of fluffy snow is expected Wednesday followed by strong winds, creating the potential for blizzard conditions. A blizzard is defined as having winds of at least 35 mph with falling or blown snow that reduces visibility to a quarter mile or less for at least three hours.
“On Thursday, winds of 40-50 miles per hour appear likely. With heavy snow in place, blizzard conditions are likely across the region, even in areas not typically favored for whitewashing conditions,” he said.
With a winter storm vigil in effect from Thursday night to Friday evening, Chicago is predicted to be one of the hardest-hit cities. With snowstorm conditions likely, holiday travel can come to a standstill for many who want to celebrate with family and loved ones.
The weather service office in Chicago, home to one of the nation’s busiest airports and long-distance train depots, said: “Conditions are deteriorating rapidly, with dangerous blizzard conditions looking increasingly likely late Thursday night from Thursday night to Friday.”
Meanwhile, even southern cities unaccustomed to winter conditions will get a brittle taste of winter conditions this holiday season, when Austin, Houston, Atlanta, and even Orlando are at risk of seeing below-freezing temperatures by midweek.
in Texas, National Weather Service The state made a point of reassuring residents that this week’s unusually cold temperatures are not expected to impact as severely as last year’s severe winter storms, which lost millions of people during a week-long extreme weather event in February 2021.
But the weather service said the water pipes would be at risk of bursting. The cold wind time for Amarillo, Texas is in effect Wednesday night through Friday afternoon.
“Outdoor piping will be at risk from well below freezing temperatures and windy conditions this weekend” Weather service in Fort Worth aforementioned. “Make sure to close the pipes and let the faucets drip!”