DETROIT, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Millions of Americans were forced to leave the country before a massive winter storm swept across large swathes of the United States on Thursday, potentially making it the coldest Christmas day on record. In many cities that threaten to upend a person’s travel plans.
Heading into the holiday weekend, the storm is expected to bring blizzard conditions to the Great Lakes region, with up to 2 inches of rain, followed by flash freezes on the East Coast and wind speeds of 60 mph (100 km/h). Gusts of wind and bitter cold are expected. south to the Mexican border.
As the storm moves over the Great Lakes, the “rapid deepening of this cyclone system” is expected to create a weather phenomenon known as a bomb cyclone, the National Weather Service said. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the cyclone could bring snowfall of 0.5 inches per hour and winds of over 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour in the upper Midwest and northeastern interior.
Power outages were likely, and the storm was expected to make travel by land and air dangerous or impossible.
President Joe Biden told the White House that it was “dangerous and threatening” and urged Americans planning to travel not to delay their trips and leave on Thursday. No stuff. As a kid, this is serious.”
More than half of the 48 contiguous U.S. states from Washington to Florida have winter weather warnings, with cold weather warnings affecting about 135 million people, said a meteorologist with the Weather Service. One Ashton Robinson Cook said:
The Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Plains could see Christmas weather close to record lows, but the record lows won’t be as widespread as the storm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
In Philadelphia, temperatures could drop to as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, approaching the lowest temperature since 1943. Meanwhile, Sioux City, Iowa, could see -14 degrees Celsius (-26 degrees Celsius) above the 1980s record.
Cook said travel conditions have already deteriorated in the Midwest and Great Lakes region as the cold front moves east, bringing more than a foot of snow in some areas.
Squalls (short periods of moderate to heavy snow and strong winds) are expected from Illinois to Indiana, with possible whiteout conditions.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 112.7 million people plan to travel more than 50 miles (80 km) from their home between December 23rd and January 2nd. That’s 3.6 million more than last year and is approaching pre-pandemic numbers.
Nearly 2,000 U.S. flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been canceled, including more than 700 departures and arrivals at Chicago’s two major airports, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Hundreds of flights have been canceled.
Many US airlines waive passenger change fees and fare differences.
Frigid air masses that have already blanketed northern states are pushing south through central Oklahoma and northwest Texas, where mercury is expected to drop to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 degrees) Thursday. I’m here. Combined with gusts of up to 60 mph (100 kph), wind chill can drop to minus 40 F (minus 40 C).
The Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts temperatures more than 30 degrees below normal in parts of the southern and southeastern plains could remain below freezing for several days.
Greg Carbin, head of forecast operations for the Weather Prediction Center, said freezing or freezing temperatures are expected to bisect Florida from Pensacola to Orlando to Daytona Beach. Temperatures can be about 25 degrees cooler than normal.
“It’s pretty cold for Florida,” he said.
Drivers in canyons in Ohio and Tennessee were warned that the sudden drop in temperatures could cause wet roads to freeze instantly.
The Bureau of Meteorology also warned of freezing rain in parts of northwestern Oregon and Washington, where storms struck late Thursday.
Georgia followed North Carolina and Kentucky on Wednesday in declaring a state of emergency. Temperatures in North Georgia were predicted to reach 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 degrees) with sub-zero wind chill.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said at a news conference: “We expect weather like we haven’t seen in over a decade.
Power and natural gas prices in the US Midwest and West Coast surged to multi-year highs on Thursday.
Reporting by Tyler Clifford, Detroit, with additional reporting by Rich McKay, Nandita Bose, and Scott DiSavino.Editing by Jonathan Ortiz
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