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Arctic explosion sweeping through the US puts vacation travel in jeopardy.US weather

Ann arctic explosion Ahead of a powerful winter storm that surged across the United States on Wednesday and is expected to complicate holiday travel for millions of people, it brought severe cold and life-threatening wind chills.

About 200 million people in the contiguous 48 states were on extreme weather alerts as freezing air descended from the northern plains and temperatures plummeted, said Bob Olavek, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS). rice field.

Denver temperatures plummeted on Wednesday, the first official day of winter, with midday highs of 51F (10C) before hitting low single digits in the evening. Mercury was expected to sink below zero by Thursday morning.

“These changes are happening as this front moves south,” Oravec said. “The temperature drops very quickly, sometimes more than 50 degrees colder than the day before. It’s a very strong and powerful system.”

The extreme weather coincided with the start of one of the busiest holiday travel seasons in decades. Nearly 113 million people could travel more than 50 miles starting Friday, according to the American Automobile Association.

“We had a great Thanksgiving week with minimal disruption.

An impending storm brought on by moisture from the Great Lakes could bring a foot of snow across the upper Midwest between Wednesday and Friday, with blizzard conditions extending from the northern Plains states to the Great Lakes. .

By Thursday night, a strong Arctic front will sweep across the Great Lakes, and by Friday temperatures along the Gulf Coast and eastern United States will reach record lows, likely forming a so-called “bomb cyclone,” Oravec said. wax.

Wind Chill and Freeze Warnings have been issued for many areas of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, and Freeze Warnings have been posted in the Panhandle of Florida.

Subzero weather and subzero wind chill, cold enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, dominated the country’s projections.

Wind chill values ​​are expected to drop as low as -40F in the west, from the Cascades to the Rockies to the northern and central plains, according to the NWS, with some areas seeing wind chill plummeting to -70F by the end of the week. was seen.

The NWS warned that extreme cold poses a particular danger to livestock in areas with high concentration of ranches.

Wind speed values ​​as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit were forecast around the Dallas-Fort Worth area after Thursday, according to the NWS.

Storm tests new winter protection on Texas power grid. Hundreds of Texans died in February 2021 after a winter storm overtaxed the power grid, leaving millions without power.

Officials with the Texas Power Reliability Council said this week they are confident the grid will be able to handle the increased demand.

Heavy rains, high winds and coastal flooding hit parts of the northeast on Thursday and Friday. Then the Arctic front arrives, freezing the wet roads and forming ice on the power lines.

North Carolina and Kentucky declared states of emergency, West Virginia issued a state of readiness, and Colorado deployed 100 National Guard soldiers.

According to flight tracking service FlightAware, more than 2,000 flights scheduled for Wednesday through Friday have been cancelled.

U.S. carriers, including Delta, United and American, have waived change fees and fare differences for passengers in various affected regions.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/dec/22/arctic-blast-us-weather-holiday-travel Arctic explosion sweeping through the US puts vacation travel in jeopardy.US weather

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