Christmas Eve brings blizzard warnings for the Midwest

Kids dream and carolers sing of white Christmases, but they do not want the kind of messy, potentially destructive winter storm that is expected to sweep across the eastern half of the United States on Christmas Eve.

Heavy snow and blizzards on the Great Plains on Wednesday will be at the forefront of what the National Weather Service described as a “wide range of dangerous weather” expected through Christmas Day, disrupts holiday travel and potentially obscures flashing lights all the way to the east coast. Tornadoes are even possible in Florida.

Some utilities are already canceling the holiday for power crews, expecting that they may be needed to restore electricity – “a tough decision clearly,” said Reid Lamberty, a spokesman for Eversource Energy in New England, “but it was a necessary decision because of the timing of the storm. ”

Bitter cold and significant snowfall is expected Thursday in much of the central part of the country, including the Upper Midwest and the eastern Ohio River Valley, while heavy rain and flooding is expected for Christmas Eve in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.

Gusts of wind up to 60 miles per hour in the New York area Thursday night has the potential to cause scattered tree damage and power outages, forecasters said, while heavy rain could flood roads Christmas morning and make the trip dangerous. But the temperature is likely to remain too high around New York City for the rain to freeze over.

This will not be the case in parts of the south, which are forecast to see holiday temperatures below average. Knoxville, Tenn., Could see its first significant Christmas snowfall – ranging from one to three inches – for the first time since 2010, said Rick Garuckas, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

“It’s going to be a very cold Christmas for a lot of people,” said Mr. Garuckas.

The storms could disrupt air travel, especially in the Midwest. Despite warnings from the federal government that Americans should stay for Christmas, airports are expected to be busy but not nearly as crowded as they would be for a pre-pandemic holiday. More than a million travelers a day went through airport security last weekend, about half as many as on the same dates in 2019.

In Florida, thunderstorms are expected across the state on Thursday, potentially spawning tornadoes. Temperatures are expected to drop sharply, from a high near 80 in the Jacksonville area to the 30s overnight, with wind cooling making it feel even colder.

The Arctic air will flow down from the Upper Midwest. In parts of Minnesota, heavy snow and temperatures falling into teens are likely to result in a flash freeze Wednesday night.

As in New York City, New England mainly expects strong winds and rain. Central Maine Power Company proposed people take standard precautions for potential power outages, including having flashlights, fresh batteries, full drinking water containers and a three-day supply of inedible food on hand. (It was unclear if the fruitcake was 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, Mr. Lamberty, company spokesman.

“We have been following this storm for several days now,” he said. “We have nothing less than an army out there, a small army, to make sure we can get the power restored and repair any damage.”