Nearly 60 million people are bracing for a powerful Christmas Eve storm that is set to hammer the East Coast with freezing temperatures, strong winds and possible flooding.
Forecasters are warning that the storm will unleash ‘extreme weather’ into Christmas with the National Weather Service predicting one to three inches of rain in the east on Thursday night.
It comes just one week after the first whopper snowstorm of the season buried parts of the Northeast with several feet of snow and left seven people dead.
‘For many areas, the rain is expected to fall on top of a deep and relatively fresh snowpack from the nor’easter last week, exacerbating flooding concerns as rain could cause rapid snowmelt,’ the Weather Service warned.
‘Another concern is the added weight that rain could put on top of roofs of buildings that remain covered by heavy snow.’
Forecasters are warning that the storm will unleash ‘extreme weather’ into Christmas with the National Weather Service predicting one to three inches of rain in the east on Thursday night
It comes just one week after the first whopper snowstorm of the season buried parts of the Northeast with several feet of snow and left seven people dead
Flood watches extend from Virginia all the way up the East Coast to Vermont.
Winds are also forecast to reach gusts of up to 60 miles per hour stretching from North Carolina to Maine on Christmas Eve.
‘An AccuWeather Local StormMax wind gust of 80 mph can occur in some coastal areas and is most likely on Long Island, New York, and along the southern coast of New England from the late day to the early nighttime hours on Christmas Eve,’ AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DeSilva said.
On the East Coast there could also be some dramatic temperature swings with parts of New Jersey at around 60F on Christmas Eve falling to single digits by Christmas night.
Snow showers may also mix in with the rain on Christmas morning.
Christmas Day is also likely to be chilly with highs reaching about 40F in New York City and New Jersey.
The Northeast’s first whopper snowstorm of the season last week buried parts of upstate New York under more than 3 feet of snow, broke records in cities and towns across the region and left plow drivers struggling to clear the roads as snow piled up at more than 4 inches per hour.
Much of Pennsylvania saw accumulations in the double digits.
Parts of northern New England saw as much as 7 inches of snow per hour, said Margaret Curtis, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
A rate of 1 inch per hour is typically enough to make it hard for snowplow trucks to keep up.
Blizzard warnings are currently in place in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota on Wednesday.
The warnings were posted in the region as National Weather Service officials called for wind chills to dip to 35 F below zero, pushed by gusts of more than 60 mph. Numerous travel advisories urged motorists to stay off the road and several highways were shut down altogether
‘Winter has come to the area,’ said Greg Gust, weather service meteorologist in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The storm was centered in southeastern Minnesota and was expected to track steadily toward Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and northern Michigan by Wednesday night.
The heaviest snow band stretched from the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota back toward Watertown in eastern South Dakota, Gust said.
A large gathering of people showed up at Hector International Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, early Wednesday only to discover that most of the flights had been canceled due to high winds and low visibilities.
‘Today was going to be probably our busiest day since COVID hit or definitely just before Thanksgiving,’ said Shawn Dobberstein, Fargo Airport Authority executive director.
‘Our building was pretty full this morning when American, Delta, United decided to cancel some flights.’
The heaviest wind gust was 62 mph in Fargo, Gust said. Conditions were starting to improve midday Wednesday as the storm moved eastward, and Dobberstein was hopeful that flights would resume later in the afternoon.
The Twin Cities were under a winter storm watch with 6 to 8 inches of snow expected, Gust said.
The Northeast’s first whopper snowstorm of the season last week buried parts of upstate New York under more than 3 feet of snow