Winter Storm All Through Christmas Weekend

A big snowstorm and cold wave will hit virtually every state, bringing a “once in a lifetime event” that will impair traffic on some of the biggest travel periods of the year. The storm may dump over 12 inches of snow and “life-threatening” winter temperatures to the Midwest.

Upwards of 87 million people are under wind chill warnings. The notifications include 37 states, including Texas and New Mexico. This will be the coldest Christmas in the Plains and Midwest in four decades.

Travel will be the hardest on Thursday. Heavy snow and severe winds will slam the Midwest. Thursday and Friday could bring lethal wind chills to western Minnesota.

Travel Restrictions

Travel will be nearly impossible throughout a whiteout. If you’re trapped in 30 to 45 below wind chills, this event might be deadly. Two to four inches of snow and 50 mph winds are anticipated for Chicago.

Concern grows about the rapid onset of severe conditions Thursday afternoon, which might hinder the evening peak commute.

Strong gusts may take out electric lines in the Midwest, particularly where heavy snow has already weighed down tree limbs. As temperatures drop below freezing, multitudes will need to remain warm.

Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis and Nashville, Tennesse, and Birmingham, Alabama might see snow Thursday. Most southern towns won’t get snow, but Nashville might get one inch.

United, American, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue have announced travel exemptions for dozens of airports from the South to the Northeast, due to snow and bad visibility.

FlightAware reported Wednesday evening that 1,000 US flights had been grounded. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Terminal is the busiest, followed by Denver and Midway.

These airports are busy terminals where visitors change aircraft to reach other locations, so cancellations might have a greater impact. Thursday is the busiest pre-Christmas travel day.

State of Emergency

Snow-free places are frigid. Thursday morning will bring frigid air to eastern Montana and the Dakotas. Freezing temperatures in Montana, as well as the Dakotas, are 50 to 60 under zero and may drop further Wednesday night.

Thursday morning in Rapid City could feel like 45 below. Chicago’s wind chill will reach 30 below zero by Friday morning. Also, the South will be icy. Saturday morning, Nashville and Atlanta will experience minus 11 and Birmingham minus five.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a state of emergency Wednesday, due to “record low temperatures” and near-zero or negative wind chills by Friday noon.

The announcement will secure commercial and residential propane delivery. The state will treat roads and bridges before the storm; officials asked locals to avoid travel if possible.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also announced a state of emergency, with 40 to 50 mph wind gusts forecast on Friday and negative 10 to -26 degrees on Saturday. Beshear encouraged locals to avoid roadways and have backup heat.

From Friday and Monday, Jackson and Birmingham will fritter away 80 hours below freezing. Between Thursday and Saturday, Houston may freeze for 46 hours.

The cold will last through Christmas weekend and into next week.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.