Christmas bomb cyclone’s cold winds could kill holiday cheer

Christmas bomb cyclone's cold winds could kill holiday cheer

A harsh winter storm has placed over 100 million Americans under critical weather alerts with record-setting temperature drops, snowy conditions and powerful wind gusts that have already canceled over 1,000 flights ahead of Christmas weekend.

High winds and snowfall are expected to cause blizzard conditions, double-digit negative windchill and wide-spread power outages across the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast as the storm moves east.

“This storm is going to strengthen very rapidly,” FOX Meteorologist Marissa Lautenbacher told the Post.

“People need to realize that with that kind of rapid strengthening, there’s a lot of wind. Some areas, especially around the Great Lakes, could be winds whipping with wind gusts up to 60 or 70 miles per hour.”

What the National Weather Service has declared a “once-in-a-generation” storm is set to become a “bomb cyclone” — a term used by meteorologists to describe a rapidly strengthening storm.

fox weather
Temperatures are expected to continue to drop daily across the country, according to forecasters.
FOX Weather

As the storm strengthens ahead of the holiday weekend, over 1,400 flights have already been canceled Thursday, according to flightaware.

Several airlines have started offering waivers as the storm is expected to strike Chicago — a key air travel hub — with great force. Hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports have been canceled.

Nearly 500 flights have been canceled at O’Hare International Airport in the past 24 hours, and another 200-plus have been canceled at the same time at Midway Airport, the Daily Herald reported.

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The developing storm also brings the threat of power outages, particularly for New England, and rain that could freeze and cause dangerous icy road conditions.
FOX Weather

“In anticipation of winter weather arriving to the Chicagoland area later today, airlines at O’Hare have proactively canceled nearly 400 flights,” the airport wrote on Twitter.

Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, travelers are being impacted by the far-sweeping storm. On Thursday morning, San Francisco International Airport had 16 canceled flights, while Oakland had nine and San Jose had eight.

Seepa Esposito said she was just hoping to get to New York in time for the holidays.

wind chill alerts
Most of the US, at least 100 million Americans, are currently under wind chill alerts.
FOX Weather

“I’m just concerned we not be able to,” she told KTVU. “It’s a bit of a concern at the moment.”

The storm has already set records in Denver, Colorado, where a 24 degree drop in temperature took place in just seven minutes Wednesday afternoon. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a 30 degree drop in temperature was recorded in 10 minutes, and a record-breaking 43-degree temperature drop was set in an hour and in Dillion, Montana, a 26-degree drop in three minutes was reported.

While most states won’t see as dramatic of drop in such a short period of time, in other areas the daily high temperatures will continue to drop by 30 degrees from one day to the next, according to Lautenbacher.

temperature map
Officials warned residents to stay indoors and to stay warm ahead of the low windchill temperatures and possible power outages.

As most of the country faces freezing, or even sub-freezing temperatures, southern states like Florida will also feel the impact as temperatures will drop from 80 degrees to 60 by Saturday, according to Lautenbacher.

The intense Arctic blast, which began in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday, will bring “life-threatening wind chills” and potentially deadly chills to much of the country, officials warned.

“Cold of this magnitude could lead to frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, as well as hypothermia and death if exposure is prolonged,” the agency said, noting that wind chill alerts currently stretch from the US-Canadian border to the Texas Gulf Coast, including portions of at least 26 states.

As temperatures continue to plummet across the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, the cold will only be exacerbated by forceful winds. The National Weather Service warned of widespread wind chills of -40F to near -60F in the Midwest and advised residents to stay indoors.

flight departures
Over 1,000 flights have been delayed in the US as of Thursday, ahead of a busy holdiay weekend for travel.

The storm also brings the threat of power outages, particularly for New England, and rain that could freeze and cause dangerous icy road conditions.

The blizzard will also bring disruptive conditions to the Northeast, including New York City and the surrounding suburbs, where rain and powerful winds may bring power outages and icy, unsafe road conditions.

The power outages are “going to be a very big thing,” according to Lautenbacher.

storm impacting travel
Many major airlines in the US have already begun offering passengers waivers ahead of the busy holiday weekend of travel and the developing bomb cyclone storm.
AFP via Getty Images

“Especially with how cold these temperatures are going to be. People really need to make plans and try to find a way to stay warm with how cold like temperatures are plunging,” Lautenbacher added.

Much of the country has already noticed the blizzard’s impacts as visibility on roadways has diminished amid massive amounts of snowball and strong wind gusts.

Heavy snow bands made for near zero visibility and dangerous driving conditions on highways near the Colorado-Wyoming border on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, drivers were hindered by near white-out conditions, wind chills dropping into the -40s and snow squalls.

Late Wednesday over 100 motorists were stranded on Interstate 90 near Rapid City, South Dakota, as snow rapidly fell and hindered visibility, making it impossible for travelers to make it to their destinations.

By 1 a.m. Thursday, officials in Pennington County said they believed they helped all of the stranded motorists to safety.

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