New Year's Day winter storm to ravage holiday travel as heavy snow to fall across US
A HUGE winter storm spanning from the Rockies to northern New England threatens to disrupt travel for thousands this weekend with up to eight inches of snow expected in some parts of the US.
Calling the incoming storm "significant", the National Weather Service's (NWS) Weather Prediction Center said in a statement that the weather event would cause "widespread hazardous travel conditions" across New Year's Day.
The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Frida, is expected to first develop over the southern Plains region on Friday before heading to the Great Lakes by early tomorrow morning.
Some of the affected areas will experience severe thunderstorms, heavy snowfall, ice, and plunging temperatures, the NWS said.
Significant mixed precipitation, including freezing rain and sleet, is also predicted to occur south of certain areas where heavy snow is expected.
Additionally, heavy rainfall across the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys is expected to cause flash flooding and an outbreak of tornados may flourish in Texas and Ohio, officials warned.
Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and parts of the Front Range of northern Colorado, including Boulder, Fort Collins, and the western Denver metro area are currently covered by winter storm warnings.
Storm warnings and other weather advisories have also been issued in northern California, Oregon, Washington State, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and New Mexico.
Accuweather meteorologists have predicted that travel-halting snowfall will affect at least 18 states.
More than 1,000 flights have already been canceled across the US as of Friday morning.
In a post on its website, Southwest Airlines has already issued a statement saying it expects services to be disrupted in Denver, Chicago, and Milwaukee across Friday and Saturday.
"Based on the forecasted weather conditions for the following cities and dates below, our scheduled service may be disrupted (flights may be delayed, diverted, and/or canceled)," the alert reads.
"Customers who are holding reservations to/from/through the cities listed above on the corresponding dates may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge."
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Across Friday, the areas at the greatest risk of severe storms will be from Dallas, Texas, to Lexington, Kentucky, according to CNN.
These storms are tipped by the NWS to be capable of all severe weather hazards, including large hail, damaging winds, flooding, frequent lightning, and a few tornadoes.
By Saturday, the threat for severe storms will shift further east and south, and expand to impact even more locations.
"Strong to severe storms are again possible Saturday into Saturday night," the NWS office in Hunstville, Alabama said in a statement.
"Primary weather hazards are damaging wind gusts and heavy rainfall with localized flooding, but hail and tornadoes cannot be ruled out."
Flooding is also a major concern in Kentucky, where some communities are still attempting to piece themselves back together following a devastating flurry of tornadoes that ripped through the area just three weeks ago.
Widespread rain totals of 1-3 inches are expected from western Arkansas to western Pennsylvania. Kentucky may see the highest amounts, with up to 4 inches tipped to fall through the weekend, forecasts show.
A storm system developing off the coast of California will bring Pacific moisture into southern and southwest California on Friday.
By New Year's Day, between one and two feet of snow is expected to have fallen in the Cascades, Sawtooth and Wasatch mountain ranges as well as central and southern Rockies, with totals climbing above three feet in the highest elevations of Utah and Colorado, the NWS said.
Sub-zero temperatures are expected from the Upper Mississippi Valley to the northern Rockies region, as Arctic air causes temperatures to drop throughout the Plains on Friday into Saturday.
Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories remain in place for the far north-central US region through January 1, the weather service said.
January 2 will see "bitterly cold temperatures" across the area from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes, with wind chills expected to strike below zero.
The southeast region, meanwhile, will see "abnormally warm and humid conditions" across the weekend.
Several record high temperatures are forecast from the Gulf Coast to the northern Mid-Atlantic region through the morning of New Year's Day, according to the National Weather Service.
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