Twelve cities across the United States face devastating winter conditions as a massive bomb cyclone threatens to terrorize the country – just days before Christmas and in the thick of holiday travel.
It is due to develop over the northwestern states and move east across the country, tearing through the great lakes, crashing into the south, and freezing the northeast with the coldest December temperatures the region has seen in decades.
Up to 18 inches of snow could fall in some areas, along with strong winds up to 55mph. Even in regions where as little as 4 inches of snow fall, the wintry mix is expected to bring critically dangerous conditions.
The storm is expected to begin Wednesday, strengthen through Thursday, and continue its reign of chaos through the night and across Friday. In the vicious conditions – where wind chills could reach minus 40 – frostbite could take hold in just 10 minutes.
The storm is due to develop over the northwestern states and move east across the country, tearing through the great lakes, crashing into the south, and freezing the northeast with the coldest December temperatures the region has seen in decades
A plane is de-iced at Minneapolis airport
A wintry scene along the lakefront in Chicago. The Windy City is expected to get clobbered by the coming storm
The Iowa city faces a storm warning beginning Wednesday evening and holding until Saturday morning.
Snowfall is due to begin at the end of the day Wednesday and continue through Thursday, before developing into a blizzard Friday. Between three and six inches of snow are expected to fall within the city itself, with more accumulating north of town.
Wind gusts will blow between 40 and 50 mph. Temperatures on Thursday are expected to sit around a high of 10-degrees Fahrenheit, -10 overnight, 0 on Friday, and wind chills between -10 and -40.
‘Given the gusty winds, blowing snow, and bitter cold, travel Thursday and Friday will be dangerous and perhaps impossible at times,’ warned the Des Moines Weather Service office. ‘Motorists that become stranded would be in great danger given the extreme cold, and travel during this period is highly discouraged.’
Cloud cover over North America on Wednesday
A man clears snow off a sidewalk in Minneapolis
A storm warning is in effect over the Twin Cities from Wednesday through Thursday, with a storm watch carrying on from Thursday into Friday. Blizzard conditions are expected to develop Thursday southwest of the city, and Friday in the city.
Between five and eight inches of snow are due to fall Wednesday, and wind gusts are expected to reach between 45 and 55 mph.
Temperatures Thursday hover between 0 and -5, and wind chills through Friday will strike between -25 and -40.
‘Travel conditions could become life-threatening Thursday through Friday night,’ said the Twin Cities’ weather service.
Between five and eight inches of snow are due to fall beginning Wednesday, and wind gusts are expected to reach between 45 and 55 mph in Minneapolis
Travelers arrive at a snowy Minneapolis Airport
A man clears snow off his windshield in Minneapolis
The Gateway to the West faces a storm watch Thursday morning through the evening, and a wind chill watch is in effect through Saturday morning.
Up to four inches of snow are expected to fall in the city, with high accumulation further north.
There is a chance of rain turning to snow Wednesday night, which would contribute to dangerous conditions when mixed with strong winds and plunging temperatures.
On Thursday, highs are expected at 30 degrees, and by night lows will hit 0. Friday could see wind chills at -30.
‘Confidence is high that dangerous wind chills will occur Thursday evening through Saturday from a combination of strong winds and very cold temperatures,’ said the St. Louis Weather Service.
The Gateway to the West faces a storm watch Thursday morning into the evening, and a wind chill watch is in effect through Saturday morning
Kansas City, Missouri
A winter storm watch is in effect from Wednesday through noon Friday, and wind chill warnings are in place from Thursday through Saturday.
Up to four inches of snow are expected, but those predictions may change.
Wind is expected to gust up to 50mph Thursday night and send temperatures plunging from -10 to -35.
Thursday will have a high temperature around 20 degrees, and Friday will hover around 0.
The city is under a storm watch from Thursday morning to Friday night.
More than six inches of snow are expected to fall beginning Thursday morning and carrying through Friday.
Temperatures will sit in the teens through Saturday, with wind chills dropping to -25. Lows through the weekend nights are due to rest around single-digits and 0. Winds are expected to gust up to 50mph.
‘These winds will be capable of producing damage to trees and will make travel very difficult in open, exposed areas and along roads where strong cross winds will develop,’ the Weather Service said.
More than six inches of snow are expected to fall beginning Thursday morning and carry through Friday in Milwaukee
The city’s storm watch is in place Thursday evening through Friday night.
Up to 8 inches of snow are due through Friday morning, with some accumulation continuing after that.
A wet, wintry mix kicks off the storm Thursday before it transitions into snow later in the day. Blizzard conditions are expected to develop Thursday night.
The Windy City will also be windy – gusts are due to hit 55mph, send temperatures plunging to -30 and could cause power outages.
‘Dangerous blizzard conditions likely Thursday night into Friday, with substantial blowing snow likely continuing Friday night into Saturday/Christmas Eve,’ the Weather Service wrote.
The Windy City will be windy – gusts are due to hit 55mph, send temperatures plunging to -30 and could cause power outages
Rain is expected to start falling Thursday then turn into snow by night.
Snow will fall through Friday night, with up to five inches accumulating through Saturday.
Wind speeds could hit as high as 55mph and could even strengthen past that mark.
Chills will hit below 0, with highs Friday at 30, and around 20 through the weekend.
Up to six inches could fall, and a storm watch is in effect from Thursday to Saturday morning.
Rain kicks things up before developing into snow Thursday night.
High temperatures Friday are expected to sit around 5 degrees, and wind chills could drop to -25 overnight.
‘No matter the track of the upcoming storm system, confidence remains very high that some of the coldest air of the year will arrive by the holiday weekend,’ the Weather Service office warned.
The city is under a storm watch Friday morning to Monday morning as strong lake effect conditions are expected, with the Weather Service warning of an ‘incredibly powerful storm’ throughout the weekend.
A wintry mix arrives Thursday then transitions to snow on Friday as temperatures drop rapidly from 40 to below 0.
Winds could blow up to 65mph Friday as lake effect snow moves in.
The Weather Service warned Buffalo faced a ‘prolonged paralyzing lake effect snow event.’
A wintry mix arrives Thursday in Buffalo then transitions to snow on Friday as temperatures drop rapidly from 40 to below 0
Although no storm watch is expected to be issued, up to six inches of snow could fall in Cleveland.
Wind could gust up to 55mph and bring wind chills below 0 on Friday.
‘High confidence continues for a multi-hazard storm system to reach the area Thursday night through Saturday,’ wrote the Weather Service. ‘Significant winds and extreme cold, including dangerous wind chills, still appear to be the greatest threats from the storm.’
Heavy rain and winds are expected Thursday afternoon, which will continue through Saturday afternoon and finally wrap up in time for Christmas.
It is also possible a thick wintry mix could fall through Christmas Day.
Temperatures could drop as low as 13 degrees through the weekend.
Heavy rain and winds are expected Thursday afternoon, which will continue through Saturday afternoon and finally wrap up in time for Christmas
A wintry mix moves into Boston late Thursday and could bring with it winds up to 65mph.
Up to three inches of rain could fall and bring with it flooding around rivers and along the coastline.
The coast could also face power outages where the wind gusts will be strongest.
Temperatures are expected to drop sharply Friday night, freezing water left over from the storm. Lows in Boston will sit around 22 degrees.
WHAT IS A BOMB CYCLONE?
A bomb cyclone is a large midlatitude storm that intensifies quickly, bringing heavy snow, rain, high winds and coastal flooding.
Midlatitude is a temperate zone north of the tropics that includes the entire continental US.
The name comes from the meteorological term ‘bombogenesis,’ or ‘explosive cyclogenesis,’ when a storm system’s central pressure drops at least 24 millibars within 24 hours.
A study found in 69 percent of cases, bomb cyclones frequently happened from December to February and early March.
The US Eastern Seaboard is one of the regions where bombogenesis is most common because storms in the midlatitudes draw their energy from large temperature contrasts.