Illness or inflation won’t stop Americans from hitting the highways or going to airports. But a major winter storm could put their plans on hold.
Forecasters are predicting snow, ice, flooding and even an onslaught of tornadoes Thursday through Saturday across a wide swath of the country from the Central Plains and Midwest to the Atlantic Coast. After this, cold wave will come from the Arctic. Christmas weekend could be the coldest in decades.
Forecasters said the wave of snow that hit the northern Pacific coast Tuesday morning would move into the Rockies, then cover the plains with snow and cover the mid-north with a deep blanket of snow. By Friday, the Arctic Front is expected to reach as far south as Florida.
Authorities across the country fear the possibility of power outages and are warning people to take precautions and postpone travel if possible to protect the elderly, homeless and livestock.
For the extreme north of the United States, wind chills of near 57 below zero Celsius (70 below zero Fahrenheit) have been estimated, sufficient to cause frostbite on exposed skin within a few minutes. The heaviest snowfall is forecast in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, according to the National Weather Service, and wind chill will be strongest in the central part of the country.
Travelers got their first glimpse of trouble Tuesday in Seattle, where a winter storm forced the cancellation of at least 192 flights, according to the FlightAware tracking service. Greyhound Bus Company canceled services between Seattle and Spokane.
Airlines offered passengers to change flights to avoid bad weather. Delta, American, United and Southwest have waived flight change fees at potentially affected airports.