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Powerful winter storm to bring freezing temperatures, snow to much of the U.S.

Arctic storm bringing dangerous temperatures to U.S.
Arctic storm to bring snow, freezing temperatures to U.S. 01:05

A powerful Arctic cold front was slated to bring blizzard conditions to several parts of the U.S. this week, lowering temperatures to dangerous levels, dumping heavy snowfall, causing potential power outages and creating a holiday travel nightmare for millions of Americans in the process.  

The storm will extend from the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies, the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, and the central Appalachians, the National Weather Service said. It had already hit the Pacific Northwest Tuesday, canceling nearly all flights in and out of Vancouver International Airport, and dumping snow in the Cascades, leading to treacherous driving conditions. There were also dozens of delays and cancellations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to FlightAware

Winter Storm Rattling Busy US Travel Season With Cold And Snow
An American Eagle plane taxis during a snow storm at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, on Dec. 20, 2022.  David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During the course of the storm, temperatures could plummet by 25 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit in "only a few hours," the weather service warned.

The storm would bring "bitter cold and dangerous wind chills" to the northern Plains before moving into the central U.S. on Thursday, according to weather services forecasters, when the Midwest could see heavy snowfall and blizzard-like conditions.

Some parts of the Intermountain West and northern and central Plains could see wind chills dropping to 50 to 70 degrees below zero, the weather service reported. 

According to CBS Colorado, the city of Denver was developing a plan to ensure that the more than 1,300 migrants who have arrived in the city since Dec. 9 will have a safe haven from the cold. About 470 migrants are currently staying in city-run emergency shelters, and another 190 are living in shelters run by private organizations, CBS Colorado reports. Many came from warm climates like Venezuela and Nicaragua and do not have warm clothing.

The Denver Zoo also announced that it would be shuttering Thursday in anticipation of the low temperatures.  

The storm could also put a damper on holiday travel Thursday, which the Federal Aviation Administration predicts will be the busiest travel day of the holiday season, with more than 47,000 flights scheduled. Several major airlines had already announced that they would offer vouchers to customers which would allow them to reschedule flights without paying penalties.

Snowstorm threatens holiday travel rush 02:35

The storm front will move south, hitting the Texas Gulf Coast and Florida. Weather Channel Meteorologist Chris Warren predicted that as the cold air drops into the South from Thursday night into Friday morning, it "could potentially" create a "flash freeze, with temperatures below zero, and even around five degrees," which could make for icy road conditions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to address how the state plans to handle the bitter cold. In February of 2021, a winter storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Texans for days. That power outage was subsequently blamed for more than 200 deaths.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also Tuesday signed an executive order in preparation for the storm.

"Missourians should be proactive in their preparations and so should state government, especially during this holiday travel season," Parson wrote in a statement. "We are signing this order to ensure state resources are available and National Guard members are on standby for any needed response efforts across the state."

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