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Arctic Blast sends the US into dangerous deep-freeze zones that endanger vacation travel

Arctic Blast sends the US into dangerous deep-freeze zones that endanger vacation travel

#Arctic #Blast #sends #dangerous #deepfreeze #zones #endanger #vacation #travel Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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With Christmas weekend approaching, much of the Lower 48 is covered in a chaotic patchwork of severe weather warnings, clocks and advisories from the National Weather Service. From Thursday through Saturday, bitter cold and winter storms are expected to devastate the US in an area spanning at least parts of 45 states.

The Great Plains, Gulf States, Midwest and Appalachian Mountains are expected to be among the hardest hit regions. Wind chill warnings cover much of the middle of the country with temperatures likely to be drop well below zero from Montana and the Dakotas to Iowa and Texas. In Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, the NWS is forecasting gusty weather in the air to feel as low as -21 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius), with wind chills less than -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 degrees Celsius) in parts of Montana.

“Wind showers of this magnitude can cause frostbite in less than 5 minutes if precautions are not taken, with hypothermia and death also possible from prolonged exposure to cold,” the NWS wrote in a Thursday alert.

In addition to wind chill, the Weather Service is forecasting heavy snowfall and squalls in parts of the Mississippi Valley in the northeast and mid-Atlantic. “Development of snow gusts could create extremely hazardous travel conditions at times as they are accompanied by gusts up to 40mph and potentially create sudden whiteout conditions,” the alert reads. All in all, the Great Lakes region could get more than a foot of snow — which isn’t much for the region. But coupled with the wind, blizzard conditions are likely, NWS said.

“This will result in dangerous, at times impossible, land and air travel into the holiday weekend,” NWS wrote. “The combination of heavy snowfall and strong wind gusts could result in significant infrastructure impacts, including isolated tree damage and power outages. Residents in the above regions are advised to make final preparations as soon as possible and to check in with family and friends during the storm in case of an emergency.”

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The cold alone could lead to infrastructure problems in some areas. During a similar February 2021 freeze, mass power outages occurred across Texas as the state’s power grid could not withstand the cold. Millions lost power and hundreds of people died. ERCOT, the Texas utility, and Gov. Greg Abbott have tried to reassure the public that improvements made to the system since then mean power will remain, but this upcoming storm will be the first major test of the updated grid.

Another potentially dangerous precipitation forecast for the Christmas weekend is freezing rain in Washington and Oregon states, as well as heavy rain in parts of the east on Thursday, just before the coldest weather breaks through – creating a high risk of “rapid flash frost” on asphalt and pavement.

The days leading up to Christmas and the winter holidays for many people are some of the busiest travel times of the year. According to AAA’s annual analysis, nearly 102 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more between Friday and Jan. 2. Another approximately 7.2 million are expected to fly. But local weather agencies are urging people to reconsider leaving the house.

Ice, snow, wind, extreme cold and heavy rains can individually cause problems for both road trips and airplanes. Taken together, such conditions are likely to lead to chaos.

Although cold winter weather is nothing new, the root cause of this extreme storm system is a gust of air from the Arctic plunging further down than it would normally extend. Such events, known as “polar vortices,” are the result of low pressure and a breakdown in normal air currents in northern latitudes. Some research suggests that increasingly intense polar vortices are a side effect of climate change, which could weaken the barrier between the Arctic regions and the rest of the world through rapid polar warming.

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