An arctic blast, labeled a “bomb cyclone,” is sweeping across the country, causing temperatures to plunge to sub-zero across the Great Plains and much of the Midwest and below-freezing in parts of the South and on the East Coast.
“Over 200 million people, or roughly 60% of the U.S. population, are under some form of winter weather warnings or advisories across the U.S.,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said. “Powerful Arctic front to continue to sweep across the eastern third of the nation today, while temperatures will begin to rebound across the Northern Rockies and High Plains this weekend.”
Around 8,000 flights were canceled on Thursday, and another 3,000 faced delays, Axios reported. According to CNN, another 2,200 flights were canceled on Friday, and over 100 flights scheduled for Saturday, Christmas Eve, have already been canceled. The winter storm has also knocked out power to over one million customers across the U.S. The “bomb cyclone” is expected to smash the Great Lakes and Ohio/Tennessee Valleys as it moves into Canada on Friday.
NWS said that “Winter weather hazards remain in effect from the Canadian border south to the Rio Grande, Gulf Coast, and central Florida Peninsula while spanning from the Pacific Northwest to the Eastern Seaboard,” adding that the warning “depicts one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever.”
In Buffalo, New York, wind gusts of up to 70 mph are expected Friday, and the city could receive up to three feet of snow over the weekend. Meanwhile, nearly 1,500 miles away in Cheyenne, Wyoming, residents saw a record-breaking temperature drop, going from 43 degrees to 3 degrees in just 30 minutes.
The arctic blast is affecting temperatures as far south as Dallas, which saw a low of 11 degrees Friday morning, and Tampa, Florida, whose residents will wake up to near-freezing temperatures Saturday morning. Travel hubs Chicago and New York are also experiencing brutal conditions as thousands of travelers are stranded at airports after canceled flights. A winter storm warning remains in effect in the Windy City as the temperature hovers around 0 degrees.
New York declared a state of emergency due to rapidly dropping temperatures expected throughout the day Friday. The city is expected to see temperatures go from the mid-50s Friday afternoon to a below-zero wind chill Friday evening.