(CNN) — For millions of Americans across much of the country, the holiday week begins with unrelenting sub-zero temperatures made even harsher by heavy snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday across many central and northwestern states.
More than 25 million people are under a Wind Chill Watch across much of the central and northwestern US, including places affected by blizzard conditions from a separate storm system last week.
The massive weather system will bring dangerously cold temperatures and snow to much of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota on Tuesday, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service, where maximum temperatures will stay below freezing.
Forecasters warned that the wind felt so cold that frostbite on exposed skin could occur in less than 10 minutes in most affected areas, and less than five minutes in some isolated places.
“Dangerous wind chills of minus 35 to minus 55 degrees Celsius are possible in these areas, in addition to extremely cold temperatures through the end of the week,” the Weather Prediction Center said Monday.
A wind chill advisory is in effect for Sioux, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota through Tuesday, as the threat of frost increases. The wind chill, which describes how the air feels, will be minus 40 degrees.
“Starting tonight, the worst of the Arctic air mass will hit our region, bringing dangerously high temperatures and freezing winds. Roads will remain slippery and additional snow is expected from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning,” the office said Monday night. meteorological service Glasgow, Montana.
Snow has already started in Seattle, which is under a winter storm warning on Tuesday. The storm will move east over parts of Idaho on Tuesday morning and then move into northern and central Montana by the afternoon.
As the storm moves east this week, it could make holiday travel difficult, if not dangerous, in many places, so forecasters urge people to be prepared to make changes.
In Minnesota, the Twin Cities weather service urged residents to beware of a “potentially dangerous week of weather,” with the worst impacts hitting the Midwest beginning Wednesday.
“The bottom line is that travel will be very dangerous and could be fatal this weekend, so be prepared to change your travel plans,” the local weather service office said.
Many local governments in affected areas have opened warming centers in an effort to provide relief to those in need.
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Overall, most of the US is expected to experience unusually cold temperatures this week. In fact, more than 80% of the country is expected to experience freezing temperatures, except for Hawaii and Alaska.
In Montana, Helena and Missoula are under winter storm warnings beginning Tuesday, and Billings is under cold wind warnings through Friday afternoon.
The storm is also expected to intensify as it approaches the Midwest, where most impacts are expected. Snow will begin in this area on Wednesday and last through most of the Christmas weekend.
Parts of central Minnesota are expected to receive several inches of light snow Wednesday, followed by strong winds that could lead to blizzard conditions. A blizzard is defined as falling or blowing snow with winds of at least 40 mph that reduce visibility to 1,500 feet or less for at least three hours.
The weather service said, “Through this Thursday, gusts of 40-50 mph are visible. Along with the snow, blizzard conditions are likely to be extreme across the region, even That usually doesn’t favor storm conditions.”
Chicago is expected to be one of the most affected cities, with a winter storm watch in effect from Thursday night through Friday afternoon. With the potential for a blizzard, travel for the holiday may come to a halt for many looking to celebrate with family and loved ones.
“Conditions will deteriorate rapidly Thursday afternoon, with a potential for snow storms Thursday night into Friday,” the Chicago Weather Service office said. Has one of the busiest long distance train stations and airports in the country.
Meanwhile, even Southern cities unaccustomed to winter conditions will have a brittle taste of this holiday season, with Austin, Houston, Atlanta and even Orlando starting mid-week. There will be a risk of seeing freezing temperatures occurring.
in Texas, National Meteorological Service Assured residents that this week’s unusually low temperatures are not expected to hit the state as severely as last year’s brutal winter storms, when millions died during a week of extreme weather events in February 2021. People had lost power.
However, there will be a risk of burst water pipes, the weather service said. Cold Wind Watch for Amarillo, TX in effect from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon.
“Outside pipelines will be at risk from cooler low temperatures and windy conditions well into this weekend,” the weather service said. Fort Worth, “Make sure you cover the pipe and let the faucet drip!”
CNN’s Robert Shackelford, Jennifer Gray and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.