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A “once in a generation” winter storm expected to sweep across the country this week has several states declaring emergencies in preparation.
The emergency declarations come as a massive winter storm is expected to cover most of the United States, producing deep snowfalls and dangerously cold temperatures that are expected to cripple holiday travel.
“A significant and disruptive storm system is forecast to produce a multitude of weather hazards over the next several days, as heavy snowfall, strong winds, and dangerously cold temperatures span from the Intermountain West through the Plains, the Great Lakes, and the central Appalachians,” the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said in a forecast Wednesday.
The massive winter weather blast will begin in the Mountain West on Wednesday night. According to Denver-based 9News, weather in the city is expected to drop from about 50 degrees Wednesday to four degrees below zero Thursday.
The National Weather Service station in Boulder issued a stark warning for residents, noting that Thursday could see life-threatening temperature drops. “Life Threatening Cold Arrives Late Wednesday,” NWS Boulder wrote on Twitter. “We promise that’s not an exaggeration. This is likely to be the coldest day in 32 years in Denver so many people have not experienced a cold snap like this. We highly recommend avoiding extended periods of being outside.”
⚠Life Threatening Cold Arrives Late Wednesday⚠
We promise that’s not an exaggeration. This is likely to be the coldest day in 32 years in Denver so many people have not experienced a cold snap like this. We highly recommend avoiding extended periods of being outside. #COwx pic.twitter.com/YPOPkzfxqs
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) December 20, 2022
The NWS station in Cheyenne, Wyoming, issued another warning for the Great Plains region. “We can not emphasize enough – the #cold air and wind chill forecast tomorrow (Wed) night thru Thursday feature some of the most extreme values you will ever see!” NWS Cheyenne tweeted Tuesday. “Please take precautions: Check on elderly/vulnerable, protect pets, shelter livestock, cover exposed skin!”
According to the weather map included in the tweet, temperatures could drop as low as 70 degrees below zero in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.
We can not emphasize enough – the #cold air and wind chill forecast tomorrow (Wed) night thru Thursday feature some of the most extreme values you will ever see!
Please take precautions: Check on elderly/vulnerable, protect pets, shelter livestock, cover exposed skin! #WYwx #NEwx pic.twitter.com/aFFqnCXftk
— NWS Cheyenne (@NWSCheyenne) December 20, 2022
The storm is expected to slam the Midwest beginning on Thursday, morphing into a “bomb cyclone” blizzard as it crosses the Great Lakes. According to Accuweather, the storm will dump between six and 12 inches of snow in a large area from northeastern Kansas to Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Canada. The storm will then undergo a process called “bombogenesis” — the barometric pressure is expected to drop rapidly, causing high winds to rush in and swirl around the center of the storm, creating blizzard conditions in states including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri — otherwise known as a “bomb cyclone.”
Between Thursday night and Friday, a rapid freeze is forecast for nearly the entire East Coast, from Maine all the way down through Appalachia and into southeastern Missouri and Arkansas. The freeze could possibly stretch as far as southern North Carolina, into South Carolina and the northern areas of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, Accuweather forecasts.
By Friday, the storm will pass over New England and the Northeast; cold rain or snow will be hit with a blast of cold air that could create a flash freeze in the area, weather.com reports. The National Weather Service station in Buffalo called it a “once in a generation” winter storm, and said that the area would be impacted particularly hard, with damaging winds of 60-70 miles per hour and heavy lake effect snow.
In all, 37 states have severe weather alerts, CNN reported, stretching as far south as the southern border with Mexico. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear all declared states of emergency within hours of each other Wednesday.