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Christmas time: Winter storm blasting US hampers holiday travel and brings record lows

Christmas time: Winter storm blasting US hampers holiday travel and brings record lows

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CNN

A a big winter storm blasting across much of the central and eastern US brought record low temperatures and heavy snow conditions that led to flight cancellations, highway closures and several emergency declarations.

The storm is affecting nearly every state, with more than 100 million people in the U.S. currently under winter weather and wind chill warnings, which the National Weather Service calls a “once-in-a-generation event.”

As the arctic front moves east, record temperature drops are seen.

Denver saw the temperature drop 24 degrees in just seven minutes Wednesday afternoon. The 37-degree temperature drop in one hour at Denver International Airport is the largest ever recorded at that location, according to National Weather Service in Boulder.

And Cheyenne, Wyoming saw a temperature drop of 30 degrees in just 10 minutes and a record temperature drop of 43 degrees in one hour.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency Wednesday, saying, “Communities across the state are about to see temperatures not experienced in a decade or more.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Kentucky Gov. Andy Bescher also declared states of emergency Wednesday, and Maryland was activated emergency response operations before the winter storm.

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More than 1,240 flights have been canceled in the US, according to the flight tracking site FlightAwaresnarling air transport amid the busy holiday season.

And road conditions were no better in many areas. Thursday is expected to be the toughest travel day as the storm hits the Midwest with heavy snow and high winds.

Near zero visibility on the roads led to many highway closures between Colorado and Wyoming on Wednesday. Wyoming Highway Patrol said he responded to nearly 800 service calls over a 12-hour period Wednesday, telling drivers to stay off the roads.

In South Dakota, more than 100 vehicles were stranded on snow-covered roads in low-visibility conditions Wednesday night, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Not even Florida will be spared with residents of the Sunshine State seeing sudden temperature drops on Friday. Major cities in the South — including Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi — are expected to see snow on Thursday.

The storm is expected to become a “bomb cyclone” Thursday night into Friday, reaching pressure equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane as it moves toward the Great Lakes.

44 of the lower 48 states have a winter, wind chill, freeze, coastal or wind advisory.

The most prevalent weather hazard over the next few days will be a dangerous cold. Wind chill warnings are in effect for more than 25 states, stretching continuously from the Texas Gulf Coast to the US-Canada border. Wind chills Wednesday night could drop to minus 70 degrees in parts of Wyoming, a low rarely seen in the United States.

Denver warns of ‘life-threatening’ cold. The city went from a temperature of 42 degrees with a wind chill of 32 at 3:53 p.m. on wednesday to minus 9 and a wind chill of minus 30 at 8:30 pm – 60 degree wind chill.

A staggering 60 million Americans, or nearly 20% of the US population, will experience a Below zero temperature with this arctic blast. This includes cities such as Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Chicago.

Western Minnesota faces dangerous blizzard conditions and potentially deadly cold winds Thursday and Friday.

Snow will begin in Chicago around noon Thursday and continue into Friday morning. Several inches of snow combined with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph could lead to Chicago’s first blizzard warning in more than four years.

An arctic front will head south into the Gulf of Mexico and sweep up the East Coast late Friday, bringing cold to the Deep South. Houston will spend nearly two days below freezing Thursday night through Saturday afternoon. The normal high for this time of year in Houston is 64 degrees. The forecast for Saturday in Atlanta is 25, which would be the coldest Christmas Eve on record.




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