States including Wyoming, Colorado and Montana have already recorded dramatic temperature plunges and more than a dozen states had temperatures below zero Thursday morning as a blast of Arctic air advances over much of the United States and a blizzard brews in the north.
More than half of U.S. states were forecast to see some areas with minimum wind chill temperatures in the negative double digits in coming days, with the coldest regions bracing for wind chills below -50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. It amounts to “dangerously cold conditions across most of the country this week.”
And high winds combined with even moderate amounts of snow could cause blizzard conditions in parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast.
Forecasters warn the weather could snarl busy holiday travel and knock out power.
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‘The bottom keeps falling out’: Temps plummet across the US
The freezing air has already hit some areas of the country with vengeance, at times transforming temperatures in a matter of minutes.
The National Weather Service reported rapidly falling temperatures in Wyoming on Wednesday night. The weather service’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, office reported a 56-degree temperature drop in 6 hours, a record.
The weather service in Boulder, Colorado reported a 37-degree drop, from 42 to 5 degrees, in the span of an hour in Denver on Wednesday night.
In Dillon, Montana, a weather service office reported a 26 degree drop in three minutes.
The cold front is forecast to dive into the south as it moves further east. The weather service warned of potential flash freezing in areas where moderate rain may fall.
It also warned more than 130 million people of wind chills as of late Wednesday.
How are regions being impacted by the winter storm?
- Midwest: Some areas in the Midwest and the Great Lakes region could see blizzard conditions until the end of the week, according to AccuWeather. Light to moderate snowfall and strong winds are forecast for the region with heavier snow predicted to exceed a foot over the Great Lakes through Friday. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency on Wednesday for all 77 counties.
- Northeast: The storm system is expected to hit the Northeast with a number of hazardous and disruptive weather conditions in the days leading up to Christmas, according to AccuWeather. Mostly rain and strong winds are expected ahead of the storm Thursday and Friday. But some portions of the region may experience snow due to the blizzard coming from the Midwest. The rain and snow will put the region at risk of flash freezing, according to AccuWeather.
- South: The storm will hit the south with wintry conditions and a deep freeze according to AccuWeather. As temperatures drop, more than 4.4 million people were under a weather service-issued hard-freeze warning in parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi on Wednesday. Wind chills with subzero temperatures may move into Texas and parts of the Deep South through the week’s end, the weather service said.