An immense winter storm is sweeping the U.S. and will bring record-low temperatures to many across the country. This will be a serious issue for travelers heading off to their Christmas destinations, as President Biden has just issued a ‘leave now’ warning to those with travel plans. Blizzard conditions will put travel plans at risk for those in the Great Plains and the Midwest, so any travelers who can leave early should do so. Otherwise, their trips may have to be canceled.
Some areas already feel the effects of the winter storm, such as Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in Minnesota who reported receiving 7.4 inches of snow in 24 hours, a record for the airport. As the storm progresses, more areas in the region will see travel and daily life disrupted. According to the National Weather Service, a “Powerful winter storm [will] produce widespread disruptive and potentially crippling impacts across the central and eastern United States,” and “Record-breaking cold and life-threatening wind chills over the Great Plains [will] overspread the eastern half of the Nation by Friday.”
The storm is expected to cause significant travel disruptions, hence Biden’s latest warning. According to the President, the White House has tried to contact 26 governors in affected areas to offer federal assistance after meeting with the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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According to the NWS, areas across the Interior Northeast, Great Lakes, and Upper Midwest will be especially affected. 1-2” per hour snowfall rates are expected, and wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour will create extremely low to near-zero visibility conditions. As a result, land and air travel will be impossible at times going into the weekend, so travelers who are still able to get to their destinations before feeling the effects of the storm should leave as soon as possible, per the President’s warning.
According to the NWS, “The combination of heavy snow and strong wind gusts could lead to significant infrastructure impacts, including scattered tree damage and power outages.” The expected intensity of the cold will make conditions for those without power even more dangerous. If travelers are unable to get out ahead of the storm, it is advisable to have supplies on hand to make it through a few days without power. A heat source, food, and water should be on hand if power is lost.
That being said, if the storm is already affecting your area or your intended destination’s area, travelers are advised to stay home and shelter in place. If travelers ignore this advice and try to get through the storm in their vehicles, they risk becoming stranded in their cars, which would be one of the most dangerous situations they could put themselves in amid life-threatening cold temperatures.
Travelers are advised to follow the advice of the NWS and local authorities. For the most up-to-date information regarding travel advice and storm conditions, check the official website of the National Weather Service.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com