A hurricane bomb: up to -55 degrees, a dangerous winter storm threatens to bring Christmas chaos to the United States
Sylvie Claire / December 23, 2022
A powerful winter storm was expected to hit much of the United States this weekend, threatening to create chaos just as tens of millions of Americans plan to travel for the holidays.
The storm was expected to begin forming Wednesday night, strengthen through Friday and last through the Christmas weekend, bringing with it extremely low temperatures, snowfall and strong winds across much of the north and east, according to the U.S. Weather Service (NWS).
This is "a once-in-a-generation storm," its local agency in Buffalo, New York, warned on Twitter.
The Midwest and Great Lakes region will be particularly hard hit this weekend, with blizzard conditions.
The mercury is expected to drop very sharply in just a few hours, reaching a felt temperature of up to -55°C in the Great Plains region.
Cold of this magnitude could cause frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, as well as hypothermia and death if exposure is prolonged," the NWS warned.
In the city of Denver, where temperatures are expected to reach a 30-year low, authorities have turned a huge indoor venue, the Denver Coliseum, into a shelter for those in need of warmth and shelter.
Gusts of wind could reach up to 80 km/h, causing possible tree falls and power outages.
The private weather site AccuWeather warns of the possible formation of a "cyclonic bomb", formed by the meeting of polar air with a mass of warmer air, causing a very rapid drop in pressure.
Cold weather watches and alerts have been issued for portions of at least 26 states, according to the NWS, and extend from the border with Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
The snow is not the biggest concern regarding this storm, but rather the cold and winds. The heaviest snowfall is expected over the Great Lakes region between Wednesday night and Friday, with just over a foot expected.
In February 2021, a freezing cold spell hit Texas in particular, causing a surge in energy consumption followed by massive power outages lasting several days.
This time, the meteorological services were reassuring in this state, the temperatures should be less low and for less time than during this episode.