Have Yourselves a Merry Little 'Bomb Cyclone'

Rapid temperature drops, wind chills as low as -70 expected into holiday weekend
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2022 6:34 AM CST
The US Is Getting a 'Bomb Cyclone' for Christmas
Torin Smith, a Department of Public Works special equipment operator, is set to load salt onto a truck in preparation for the upcoming storm Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at the Department of Public Works sanitation yard in Milwaukee, Wis., on Wednesday.   (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Parts of the US are in for "the coldest Christmas in four decades," the BBC reports, noting a "once-in-a-generation" cold snap will evolve into a "bomb cyclone" ahead of the holiday weekend, throwing a wrench in travel plans for millions of Americans. A bomb cyclone—a storm strengthened by a rapid drop in central air pressure, "essentially a winter hurricane," as USA Today puts it—will likely form Thursday as an Arctic front crosses the Great Lakes, bringing what could be record low temperatures to the eastern US and Gulf Coast, per Reuters. About 80% of the country is likely to experience sub-zero temperatures, per the BBC. North Carolina and Kentucky have declared states of emergency while parts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida are under hard-freeze warnings or watches.

Denver International Airport experienced a record temperature drop Wednesday with the mercury falling 37 degrees in an hour down to 5 degrees, Reuters reports. It's expected to drop to -16 degrees on Thursday, per the BBC. "That's the kind of changes that are going to be occurring as this front pushes southward: rapid temperature drops, sometimes 50 or more degrees colder than the previous day," National Weather Service forecaster Bob Oravec tells Reuters. NWS is predicting temperatures between -50 degrees and -70 degrees with the wind chill across the central High Plains. Blizzard conditions are possible from the Northern Plains across to the Great Lakes. The Upper Midwest could see up to a foot of snow through Friday.

In Texas, state officials are assuring residents there won't be another disaster like in 2021, when a winter storm overwhelmed the state's power grid, leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark and cold. "I think trust will be earned over the next few days as people see that we have ultracold temperatures and the grid is going to be able to perform with ease," Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday, per the New York Times. Further north in Ontario and the eastern Canadian provinces, a mix of snow and rain on Thursday could lead to a flash freeze as a winter storm smacks the area on Friday. "We can't tell people not to go outside, but your best bet is to stay indoors," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines tells USA Today. The Times predicts "substantial flight delays" and "havoc on the roads." (More winter storm stories.)

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