A strengthening winter storm is being hailed as a “once-in-a-generation type event” that will likely cripple travel on some of the busiest days of the year.
According to CNN, more than 90 million people across 37 states as far south as Texas are under winter weather and wind chill alerts ahead of Christmas.
On Wednesday (December 21), the “once-in-a-generation” storm will strengthen throughout the day over the Northern Plains. Heavy snowfalls are set to hit much of the area as well as the Rockies and Midwest. Road conditions from the storm will likely cause travel delays in places such as Minneapolis, Omaha, and Rapid City.
Thursday (December 22) may prove to be the most difficult day for travel. Heavy snow and strong winds will power through the Midwest, with Western Minnesota facing blizzard conditions and possible deadly wind chills.
“Whiteout conditions are expected during that time with travel becoming very difficult or impossible,” The National Weather Service said. “This event could be life-threatening if you are stranded with wind chills in the 30 below to 45 below zero range.”
On Friday (December 23), the storm is expected to become a “bomb cyclone,” reaching pressure equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane in the Great Lakes.
“This is a case in which snow totals may not tell the whole story. Even small snow amounts, when combined with very strong wind gusts and plummeting temperatures, can cause poor visibility and slick spots on roads. The sudden arrival of these conditions can increase the danger,” the weather service said.
Places that escape the snow will still see record-low temperatures. Areas from eastern Montana through the Dakotas will experience temperatures 40 degrees below normal. The South is also set to face dangerously cold temperatures in places like Nashville, Atlanta, Jackson, Birmingham, and Houston.
The cold temperatures will persist through Christmas weekend before normalizing next week.