A powerful winter storm is expected to develop and move across parts of the Midwest, central Appalachians, eastern Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic and Northeast this week, bringing a mix of strong winds, rain and snow, including blizzard conditions, that could make travel dangerous leading up to the holiday weekend and leave most the country with freezing temperatures.
A bitterly cold Christmas also is in store for vast sections of the central and eastern U.S. as a blast of arctic air is expected to sweep in late in the week, sending temperatures plunging far below their late December averages, forecasters said.
“The tandem of bitterly cold temperatures and an intensifying storm system over the Rockies and central Plains by midweek, will mean treacherous travel for many locations along and east of the Rockies,” the National Weather Service said, adding that anyone in those regions should closely monitor the forecast.
In the northern Plains and upper Midwest, temperatures could dip into the negative teens by Christmas Eve and the following days, according to the service. It said subzero temperatures could reach as far south as the central Plains, while temperatures in the single digits were expected in the stretch from the Northeast to the Ohio Valley and up to the Great Lakes.
“Combined with wind gusts up to 60 mph, widespread wind chill values could drop to around minus 40 degrees throughout the central and north-central United States,” forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center said Tuesday. “This level of cold can be life threatening and lead to frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.”
Below-freezing temperatures are forecast even for parts of southern Texas, the Gulf Coast and Florida over the weekend and into next week, the service said. Low temperatures along parts of the Gulf Coast could drop into the teens and low 20s.
“For some folks, it could be one of the coldest Christmases in a while,” said Zackary Taylor, a senior meteorologist with the prediction center.
Nearly 40 locations across the United States are forecast to plummet to record-breaking daily cold temperatures Thursday and Friday.
Every state in the country, if you count the summits in Hawaii, is expected to get below-freezing temperatures Christmas Eve, said Alex Lamers, the warning coordination meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center.