In what experts are calling a “once in a generation” event, more than 100 million people in the United States are set to be affected by a massive winter storm. The arctic blast is expected to strengthen in the center of the nation due to a process dubbed a “bomb cyclone.” The storm is also bringing the risk of menacing wind chills that could bring temperatures down as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
As of Thursday morning, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming have reported intense temperature drops. Cheyenne recorded a plummet of 56 degrees in just six hours, ending in -9 but with the wind chill in the -40s.
Areas near the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in northern Idaho are recording temperatures as low as -59 to -61 degrees Fahrenheit. Residents near Pocatello are being advised to limit outdoor exposure with temperatures ranging between -3 and -32 degrees.
This will be the coldest Christmas in 40 years for the Plains and the Midwest regions. These areas could see blizzard conditions and up to a foot of snow. The forecast in Chicago is a wind chill of -40 by Friday night, December 23. Weather experts are warning residents that frostbite can occur in as little as ten minutes under these conditions.
The storm system is expected to trigger lake-effect snow in the Buffalo-Niagara area of upstate New York. Forecasts are calling for wind gusts of 50-70 mph Friday-Saturday and near zero visibility if the anticipated blizzard strikes.
Even the South is due to feeling the bitter cold as temperatures will drop far below winter averages. Tennessee is pretreating roads to prepare for inclement weather. Alabama will feel its coldest December air since 1989, and Louisiana is urging residents to prepare for “life-threatening” temperatures in the teens to lower the 20s.
As it is just a few days before Christmas, this storm is poised to cause immense travel headaches. More than 1,500 flights have been canceled across the United States. Driving conditions will be hazardous due to snow and ice, with numerous areas facing blizzard conditions. People are being warned of power outages, leaving them with limited heat sources in the dangerous cold.
President Biden is advising Americans to take the “dangerous and threatening” storm seriously. He said, “It’s like not like a snow day, you know, like when you were a kid. This is serious stuff.”
For those singing “Let it Snow’, this likely isn’t what they had in mind.