At least 26 states are under wind chill advisories Wednesday as the National Weather Service is warning Americans to bundle up in preparation for “record-breaking low temperatures” from a strong arctic cold front that is sweeping its way across the U.S. ahead of Christmas.
The watches and warnings, which stretch from the U.S.-Canada border all the way down to the Texas Gulf Coast, come as forecasters are expecting wind chill values to possibly drop as low as minus 70 degrees in areas of the central High Plains.
“Cold of this magnitude could lead to frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, as well as hypothermia and death if exposure is prolonged,” the National Weather Service said in a Wednesday morning advisory, calling the blast of bitter cold air the “most widespread weather hazard” facing the nation over the next few days.
“Widespread wind chills below zero are forecast to extend as far south as Texas and parts of the Deep South through the end of the week, as well as near the major cities across the Northeast,” it added.
Around 100 million Americans are expected to face wind chill readings below zero by Thursday or Friday, with minus 30 degree readings forecast for parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado and even lower numbers in states such as the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, according to Fox Weather.
The NWS says this “will not be your average cold front as temperatures could drop 20 or more degrees within a few hours.
“This alone could create flash freeze conditions on roadways where any standing water doesn’t dry quick enough,” it added.
Meanwhile, the NWS says a developing winter storm system is “likely to produce widespread light-to-moderate snowfall from the Midwest to the Great Lakes and Interior Northeast, with a brief burst of snow also possible into the Ohio/Tennessee Valleys and northern Mid-Atlantic immediately following the cold frontal passage.”
“The heaviest snowfall, with amounts potentially exceeding a foot, is anticipated to occur over the Great Lakes between tonight and Friday,” it also said. “Wind gusts over 50 mph and falling snow will result in blizzard conditions from the northern/central Plains to the Great Lakes.”