Winter storm brings bitter cold, disrupts holiday travel across U.S.

    The deviation of the forecast temperature from the average temperature in December is 24.

The deviation of the forecast temperature from the average temperature for December 24. Image:

Some 33 million people are under a winter storm watch and another 27 million are under a wind chill warning ahead of the Arctic outbreak and the associated major storm sweeping the country this week.

Threat level: Arctic air began hitting the northern Plains on Monday, before a heavy storm formed and battered the Midwest and the Great Lakes region. Forecasters warned of power outages and “widespread” holiday travel delays throughout the Midwest and East.

  • “An arctic airstream behind a cold front moving across the U.S. this week will bring widespread, dangerous wind-cooled temperatures to much of the central U.S. and possible lightning freeze from the South Central to the East Coast,” the National Weather Service said Monday night. Service updates.
  • “A major winter storm will develop along this front, bringing heavy snow and strong winds, creating blizzard conditions for parts of the Plains into the Great Lakes region.”

By numbers: Temperatures are expected to drop to 32°F or below for 270 million people in the lower 48 states within the next seven days as a major winter storm hits the Midwest, according to National Weather Service forecast data analyzed by

  • According to the NWS forecast, about 55 million people in the lower 48 states will experience temperatures at or below 0°F over the next 7 days.
A screenshot of the NWS tweet saying that the cold front has reached parts of Montana.
Photo: National Weather Service Great Rapids, Montana/TwitterThe cold is likely to stress the power grid in some states, including Texas, although the event does not appear to be as severe or prolonged as the February 2021 cold snap that shut down the state’s power grid.

What’s next: monster storm is forecast It began hitting the north-central United States on Wednesday night. Affected cities include Buffalo, Des Moines, and St. Louis. St. Louis, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Chicago — The National Weather Service issued warnings for “dangerously cold,” blizzards and strong winds in these locations.

  • The NWS warned that low visibility and drifting snow would make travel in Chicago “difficult or impossible” starting Thursday, and strong winds could cause power outages.

at the same time, Dallas Ft. The Worth area is expected to see two to three days of below-freezing temperatures, including Christmas Eve, with biting winds during that period.

Between the lines: For many, it will be the coldest Christmas Eve and Christmas in years, with some experiencing the coldest Christmas since the 1980s.

Screenshot of NWS tweet warning of possible record low temperatures in Colorado this week.
Photo: National Weather Service Boulder/Twitter

enlarge: Forecasts for certain cities on the path of extreme cold help illustrate what’s to come.

  • in Chicago, Temperatures there will drop to 23°F on Tuesday, with a possible low of -1°F in the city on Christmas Day.
  • in Des Moines, Wednesday’s high will be 20°F and the low will be -5°F.Highs likely on Thursday or 4°F with a low of -11°F. Friday is -3°F with a low of -11°F.
  • in Denver, Wednesday’s high is expected to be near 41°F and the low is -12°F. Temperatures will plummet on Friday, with highs of -1°F and lows of -8°F.
  • in Dallas, The cold sets in Thursday with a high of 45°F but a low of 9°F by Friday.
  • Washington DC, Lows will reach 18°F on Christmas Day.
  • Atlanta Christmas Eve is expected to be the coldest day yet with a low of 12°F.
A screenshot of an NWS Des Moines tweet warning that it could be life-threatening if you travel in the snow this week.
Photo: National Weather Service Des Moines/Twitter

thought bubble: The weather pattern is associated with a polar vortex lobe in the lower atmosphere (separate from the main vortex in the atmosphere above the North Pole), which swirls southward from Siberia.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new forecast details and more context.

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