(CNN) — A developing ‘bomb cyclone’ has placed alerts from Washington state to Maryland, covering more than 50 million people, according to the National Weather Service, with that number expected to rise in the coming days.
Thus, for millions of Americans in much of the country, the holiday week begins with unrelenting sub-zero temperatures made even harsher by heavy snowfall expected Tuesday and Wednesday in several central and northwestern states.
“cyclonic pump” is a term used by a meteorologist to describe a rapidly strengthening storm. Specifically, it is a drop of 24 millibars (a term used to measure atmospheric pressure), in 24 hours. They usually occur with winter northeasterly winds, but in this case they are expected to occur on the Plains, due to the difference in extreme temperatures between the warm, moist air before the storm and the extreme Arctic air mass entering from Canada.
On Tuesday, the extensive weather system brought dangerously cold temperatures and snow to Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and most of Minnesota, where maximum temperatures will remain below freezing, according to meteorologists from the National Metereological Service.
“In addition to the brutally cold temperatures, dangerous values of wind chill of 35 to 55 degrees below zero are possible until the end of the week in these areas,” the government said Monday. Meteorological Prediction Center.
Blizzard conditions could force the closure of O’Hare Airport during the peak of the storm and likely result in the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Chicago alone.
Wind chill advisories are in effect Tuesday for Sioux, South Dakota, and Fargo, North Dakota, as frost dangers are setting in. The wind chill, which indicates how the wind feels, will be up to 40 degrees below zero.
“Starting tonight, the worst of the arctic air mass will hit our area, bringing dangerous temperatures and wind chills. Roads will remain slippery and additional snowpack is expected Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.” , said Monday night the office of the meteorologic service in Glasgow, Montana.
Snowfall has already started in Seattle, which is under a winter storm warning on Tuesday. The storm will move east across portions of Idaho Tuesday morning and then move across northern and central Montana by afternoon.
As the storm moves east this week, it could make vacation travel difficult, if not dangerous, in many places, so forecasters urge people to be prepared to make changes.
In Minnesota, the Twin Cities weather service implored residents to be wary of the “potentially dangerous week of weather,” with the worst effects hitting the Midwest beginning Wednesday.
“The bottom line is that travel will be very dangerous and could be life-threatening later this week, so be prepared to alter your travel plans now,” the local weather service office said.
Many local governments in affected areas have opened warming centers in an attempt to provide relief to those in need.
What to expect in Christmas week
Overall, most of the US is expected to experience abnormally cold temperatures this week. In fact, more than 80% of the country, except Hawaii and Alaska, is expected to experience freezing temperatures.
In Montana, Helena and Missoula are under a winter storm warning beginning Tuesday, and Billings is under a wind chill warning until noon Friday.
The storm is also expected to intensify as it approaches the Midwest, where the greatest impacts are expected. Snow will begin to fall in the region on Wednesday and will last through much of the Christmas weekend.
In parts of central Minnesota, several inches of fluffy snow is expected Wednesday, followed by high winds, creating the possibility of blizzard conditions. A blizzard is defined as having winds of at least 40 mph along with falling or blowing snow that reduces visibility to 1,500 feet or less, for at least three hours.
“By this Thursday, gusts of 40-50 mph appear likely. With snow in place, blizzard conditions are highly likely throughout the area, even in areas not normally favored by storm conditions. white,” said the meteorologic service.
Chicago is expected to be one of the hardest-hit cities, where a winter storm watch is in effect Thursday night through Friday afternoon. With blizzard conditions likely, vacation travel could come to a standstill for many looking to celebrate with family and loved ones.
“Conditions will rapidly deteriorate late Thursday afternoon, with snowstorms becoming increasingly likely Thursday night through Friday,” the Chicago weather service office said. lies one of the busiest long-distance train stations and airports in the country.
Meanwhile, even southern cities unaccustomed to wintry conditions will have a brittle taste of this holiday season, with Austin, Houston, Atlanta, and even Orlando at risk of seeing freezing temperatures starting midweek.
In Texas, the National Metereological Service assured residents that this week’s unusually low temperatures are not expected to affect the state as severely as last year’s brutal winter storms, when millions of people lost power during a week of extreme weather events in February 2021.
However, water pipes will be at risk of bursting, the weather service said. A wind chill watch for Amarillo, Texas is in effect Wednesday night through Friday afternoon.
“Outdoor pipelines will be at risk from well-below-freezing temperatures and windy conditions later this week,” the weather service said in Fort Worth. “Make sure you cover the pipes and let the faucets drip!”
CNN’s Robert Shackelford, Jennifer Gray and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.