Cold for the holidays: Blast of frigid, Arctic air to affect most of U.S.

Dangerous blizzard will hit Midwest and the Great Lakes

Dangerous, snowy road conditions.

Dangerous, snowy road conditions. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Frigid temperatures to grip U.S.

Extremely cold arctic air is expected to plunge southward and impact much of the country through Hanukkah and into the week of Christmas, December 22–26, according to NOAA forecasters.

Temperatures 40 degrees F below average and dangerous life-threatening wind chills as low as 50 degrees F below zero are possible in the northern Rockies and northern Plains. Sub-zero to single-digit temperatures are likely across the central Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Midsouth. 

Well below freezing temperatures will extend into the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and as far south as the Gulf Coast through the holiday weekend. Based on National Weather Service forecasts, every state in the continental U.S. will experience temperatures below 20 degrees on Christmas Eve.

Major blizzard to impact holiday travel

Treacherous winter conditions associated with a strong winter storm will pose challenges for some holiday travelers. Heavy snowfall and strong winds are expected from the Plains and Midwest into the Great Lakes Wednesday night, December 21, into Saturday, December 24.

The combination of snow and wind is likely to lead to blizzard conditions in some areas, making travel dangerous, and at times, impossible. Rapid and significant temperature decreases associated with this system raises the potential for the flash freezing of bridges and roadways. The intensity of the cold would pose a significant danger to anyone who becomes stranded in blizzard conditions. A series of systems moving onshore in the Pacific Northwest will lead to several rounds of heavy precipitation this holiday weekend. 

Stay Weather-Ready this holiday season

Be sure to see these important winter weather safety tips and resources to stay safe before, during and after a winter storm. 

Driving this holiday season? Check out these winter driving tips.

Get your snow smarts on: 9 forecast tools to use this winter.