Kids dream and singers sing Christmas snow, but they don’t wish for the kind of messy and potentially destructive winter storm that is expected to sweep the eastern half of the United States on Christmas Eve.
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions on the Great Plains on Wednesday will be at the forefront of what the National Weather Service has described as a “wide range of hazardous weather conditions” expected until Christmas Day, disrupting vacation travel and potentially obscuring twinkling lights all the way to the East Coast. Tornadoes are even possible in Florida.
Some utilities are already canceling power crew vacations, predicting they may be needed to restore power – “a clearly difficult decision,” said Reid Lamberty, a spokesperson for Eversource Energy in New England. , “But it was a necessary decision due to the timing of the storm.
Freezing cold and considerable snowfall are expected Thursday across much of central Canada, including the upper Midwest and eastern Ohio River Valley, while heavy rains and flooding are forecast for the Christmas Eve in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.
Gusts of up to 60 miles per hour in the New York area Thursday night could cause scattered tree damage and power outages, forecasters said, while heavy rains could flood roads on Christmas morning, making travel perilous. But temperatures will likely remain too high around New York City for the rain to freeze.
This will not be the case in parts of the south, which are expected to experience below-average holiday temperatures. Knoxville, Tennessee could see its first major Christmas snowfall – one to three inches – for the first time since 2010, said Rick garuckas, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tennessee.
“It will be a very cold Christmas for a lot of people,” Garuckas said.
Storms could disrupt air travel, especially in the Midwest. Despite warnings from the federal government that Americans should stay put this Christmas, airports are expected to be busy, but not as crowded as they would be on a pre-pandemic vacation. More than a million travelers a day passed through airport security last weekend, about half the number of travelers on the same dates in 2019.
In Florida, thunderstorms are expected across the state on Thursday, tornadoes likely to spawn. Temperatures are expected to drop sharply, peaking near 80 in the Jacksonville area in the 1930s overnight, with the wind chill making it feel even colder.
Arctic air will descend from the upper Midwest. In parts of Minnesota, heavy snowfall and temperatures dropping into the teenage years are likely to result in a flash frost Wednesday night.
Like New York, New England predominantly expects high winds and rain. Central Maine Power Company suggested people take standard precautions for potential power outages, including having flashlights, fresh batteries, full drinking water containers, and a three-day supply of non-perishable foods on hand. (It was not clear if the fruit cake qualified.)
Eversource, which serves about 4.3 million people in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, plans to bring in crews from Canada and Pennsylvania to help, said Lamberty, the company spokesperson.
“We’ve been following this storm for days now,” he says. “We have nothing less than an army over there, a small army, to make sure we can restore power and repair any damage.”