Bomb cyclone storm to bring life threatening cold to US

Millions of Americans are under critical weather alerts as a major winter storm is set to bring “life-threatening” cold temperatures and powerful winds to large swathes of the nation – with the mercury expected to drop as low as -28.8C across the Midwest and Great Lakes.

More than 80 million Americans – spanning from coast to coast – are under various forms of wind chill alerts, according to FOX Weather meteorologist Christopher Tate.

“We could see wind gusts of 40 to 50m/h (64km/h to 80km/h),” he told the New York Post on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an occasional gust of 60 (96km/h) along the coast.”

The intense Arctic blast will bring “life-threatening wind chills” to much of the country, the National Weather Service also warned on Wednesday.

“Cold of this magnitude could lead to frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, as well as hypothermia and death if exposure is prolonged,” the agency said, noting that wind chill alerts currently stretch from the US-Canadian border to the Texas Gulf Coast, including portions of at least 26 states.

Mr Tate said temperatures could plummet to -28.8C across the Midwest and Great Lakes.

“Some places are expected to drop as low as minus 20 degrees (-28.8C). And that’s not taking into account the wind that’s going to make it feel minus 60 (-51C),” the meteorologist said.

The potential “bomb cyclone” will be a once-in-a-generation weather event, officials have said.

A bomb cyclone is a term used by meteorologists to describe a rapidly strengthening storm – typically when a storm system’s central pressure drops at least 24 millibars within 24 hours, Fox Weather explained.

The blizzard will also produce disruptive conditions in the Northeast, where rain and powerful winds may cause power outages and icy, unsafe roads, meteorologists warned.

In addition to strong and damaging winds making it seem even more frigid, New York City and the surrounding suburbs should expect to see rain over the upcoming weekend.

Any precipitation that falls ahead of what surely will be a busy weekend for holiday travel is at risk of rapidly freezing and causing slick and dangerous road conditions.

“If this had gone a little bit differently we would have had snow and a white Christmas, but it’ll be a little too warm here,” Tate said.

By Wednesday morning, the winter storm was dropping snow across parts of the northern Rockies and northern Plains.

Between 5cm and 12cm of snow was reported in the Seattle metro area on Tuesday, and up to 30cm was measured just north of Seattle.

The powerful Arctic front is moving south and east and is expected to head toward the northern and central Plains and the Upper Midwest on Wednesday, where conditions will rapidly deteriorate throughout the day, producing dangerous snow squalls, possible white-outs and blizzard conditions.

While the Midwest is expected to bear the brunt of the storm, major airline delays and flight cancellations will likely be a common theme across major travel hubs and US airports ahead of and throughout the holiday weekend.

Ahead of the troublesome forecast, several airlines have started offering waivers as the storm is expected to strike Chicago – a key air travel hub – with great force. United, JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines have already said they are offering waivers for a number of specific flight paths and dates.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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