Storm Could Bring Christmas Bomb

December 19, 2022

“A massive surge of arctic air”.

Where have I heard that before?

Washington Post:

In the days leading up to Christmas — one of the busiest travel times of the year — two extreme, disruptive and dangerous weather systems will affect large parts of the Lower 48 states: a very intense storm that will produce blinding snow, heavy rain and howling winds, and an associated outbreak of exceptionally cold air.

The large, powerful storm is set to explosively develop in the Midwest and Great Lakes late this week, unleashing heavy snow and strong winds — and the potential for blizzard conditions in some areas.

Possibly qualifying as a “bomb cyclone” because of its projected rapid strengthening, the storm could bring extreme impacts from snow and wind from the Plains to the interior Northeast between Thursday and Christmas Eve, seriously affecting major population centers including Kansas City, St. Louis, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee and Buffalo.

Winter storm watches have been issued for more than 32 million people from Kansas to Wisconsin ahead of the system and will probably be expanded eastward.

On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service wrote that a “significant blizzard” will develop, with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour and 50 mph winds that will make some land and air travel “impossible” at times.

While not everyone will see heavy snow, few areas outside California and the Southwest will escape what the National Weather Service is describing as “a massive surge of arctic air.”

Exceptionally cold and windy air will be drawn southeastward from Canada by this potent storm. The cold will seep into Texas — and eventually Florida. Houston could see temperatures in the teens and wind chills near zero Friday morning. On Thursday, subzero temperatures may stretch from Denver to Minneapolis with temperatures 40 to 50 degrees below normal from Montana to the Texas Panhandle.

In some places, this will be the coldest December weather since at least 1989. By the second half of the week, much of the northern Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes will have subzero temperatures — even for highs — with wind chills as low as minus-55 near the Canadian border. More than 20 million people from the Rockies to the Midwest are under wind chill watches.

The cold air is set to arrive suddenly, with temperatures falling 25 to 35 degrees in just a few hours when the Arctic front sweeps by, the Weather Service wrote Monday. Areas that see rain before temperatures tumble could experience a “flash freeze,” the agency warned.

Along the southward-diving Arctic cold front, a very intense storm system will develop. It will tap into jet stream energy, quickly ballooning into a major mid-latitude cyclone.

The counterclockwise-spinning storm system will drag a strip of warmth up the Eastern Seaboard, leading to mostly rain, but cold air crashing south on its backside will support a swath of heavy snow combined with punishing winds between the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes.

The combination of snow and wind will lead to whiteout conditions and impossible travel in some areas. Power outages are an additional concern, particularly considering the extremely cold temperatures predicted.

In its forecast discussion Monday, the National Weather Service office serving Chicago warned of “rapidly deteriorating conditions by late Thursday afternoon, with dangerous blizzard conditions appearing increasingly likely Thursday night into Friday.” It advised anyone with travel plans at that time to “begin to consider alternate arrangements.”


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