Biden urges Americans to take winter storm "extremely seriously"
President Biden cautioned Americans to take the widespread "dangerous and threatening" winter storm seriously and to listen to warnings from local officials.
"This is really a very serious weather alert here. And it goes from Oklahoma all the way to Wyoming, and Wyoming to Maine. And it is a real consequence. So I encourage everyone, everyone please heed the local warnings," Biden said.
The administration has tried to contact 26 governors so far in affected regions, he said.
"It's like not like a snow day, you know, like when you were a kid," the president said from the White House, surrounded by weather maps. "This is serious stuff."
"And my team is prepared to help communities weather this, no pun intended, this storm and this freeze," he added.
He said he will be briefed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service shortly.
"Take this storm extremely seriously," he said, encouraging people to travel to their destinations as soon as possible.
11:01 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Buffalo Public Schools will be closed on Friday with severe winter weather projected in New York
From CNN’s Caroll Alvarado
Buffalo Public Schools will be closed on Friday due to the severe winter weather expected to hit the state, the Buffalo City School District said on their website.
Buffalo school district serves approximately 32,000 students in 60 facilities, according to the district website.
The announcement added that there will be no remote instruction and asked all students and staff to remain home.
Here's the forecast from the National Weather Service in Buffalo: “A Blizzard Warning was issued for the Niagara Frontier, including the Buffalo Metro area. Lake effect snow, strong wind, blowing snow, and -10 to -25 wind chills will follow a frontal passage Friday. Travel will be difficult to impossible Friday through much of Christmas weekend.”
Heavy rain, snow, high winds, flash freezing, and flash flooding are expected for several regions in New York state.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also warned that damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines making widespread power outages possible. She directed state agencies on Wednesday to prepare to respond to the significant winter weather system that’s expected to hit the state Thursday into Monday.
To prepare for the high winds the New York State Thruway is also implementing a tandem and empty truck/ trailer ban on parts of the Interstate 90 beginning on Friday at 6 a.m. ET.
11:36 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Multiple crews in Tennessee are pretreating roads as inclement weather threatens state
From CNN's Michelle Watson
Multiple Tennessee Department of Transportation crews are out working to pretreat roads due to the "inclement weather looming" across the state, the state's Department of Transportation said.
Mark Nagi, the department's region 1 community relations officer for east Tennessee, posted several pictures and videos of crew working to prep the roads.
Rae Anne Bradley, the department's region 2 community relations officer for east and middle Tennessee, said her team members have been preparing the roads since Wednesday "in anticipation of inclement weather."
Bradley also said Thursday that crews will continue to treat the roads "as conditions intensify."
The state's emergency management arm also warned residents who are planning on traveling to "check road conditions and have an emergency vehicle kit."
The Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the nation's largest energy suppliers, said it's ready to combat the state's upcoming wintery conditions.
"Reliable power is important now more than ever, and our employees across the fleet are working hard around the clock, even during the Holiday season, keeping the electricity flowing and your home merry and bright," the company said in a tweet.
10:48 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Alabama faces coldest December air mass since 1989, officials say
From CNN's Michelle Watson
The frigid temperatures hitting Alabama Thursday and Friday are "likely be the coldest December air mass to hit the state since 1989," Alabama Emergency Management said in a release Thursday.
"In areas impacted by precipitation and freezing temperatures, travel should be avoided if possible until conditions improve," the release added.
Alabama's Department of Transportation said that pre-treating of roads will be "minimally effective" due to the arctic cold front combined with precipitation that's going to impact the state Thursday and Friday.
Much of Alabama is under a hard freeze warning, according to the National Weather Service. The transportation department said northern Alabama will get the brunt of the "precipitation and sustained subfreezing."
2:40 p.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Why this "once-in-a-generation" storm could also be historically expensive for Americans
From CNN’s Matt Egan
The “once-in-a-generation” winter storm sweeping across the nation will force Americans to crank up the heat at a time when it’s become increasingly expensive to do just that.
The average cost of home heating is projected to increase by 17.2% from last winter to $1,208, according to a November report from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.
The cost to heat homes is expected to be 35.7% higher this winter than the 2020-2021 winter, the report said.
The price for natural gas – the most popular way to heat homes in America – has surged and electricity prices have also climbed sharply.
Homes that rely on natural gas for heat will spend an average of 25% more this winter, the US Energy Information Administration projected last month. Those that use heating oil are projected to spend 45% more than last winter, while electricity will be up 11% and propane 1%.
But the heating bills will only get more expensive if the winter proves to be colder than expected.
For instance, the average household that uses natural gas for heat will spend 37% more than last winter if temperatures are 10% colder than forecasted, the Energy Information Administration warned. Heating oil bills would spike by 52%.
Consumers were feeling sticker shock even before the winter began. Prices for utility gas spiked 15.5% year-over-year in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electricity prices were up 14%.
An added burden for those on the financial edge: The consequences are particularly acute for those who can least afford swings in their expense.
“Home heating costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for millions of lower income families,” the National Energy Assistance Directors Association said in its November report.
As of August, about one in six US families were behind on their utility bills, translating to approximately 20 million households, according to the association.
10:40 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Light snow sweeps across Dallas-Fort Worth area
From CNN’s Rebekah Riess
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area along and north of Interstate 20 is experiencing “snow flurries to legitimate light snow” Thursday morning, according to an update from the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
Light to moderate snow along and north of the I-20 corridor is possible through midday. The snow will be dry and the wind will blow it around so roads will be generally clear and travel will not be impacted, the weather service said.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport said it has made preparations for subfreezing temperatures.
Only 5% of flights out of both Dallas/Fort Worth International and Dallas Love Field airports are delayed, according to FlightAware.
10:32 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Northern Idaho wildlife refuge recording temperatures as low as -59 degrees
In the northern part of the state near the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, the weather service is reporting temperatures as low as -59 degrees and -61 degrees.
Here are some updates from the weather service in Pocatello on Facebook Thursday morning:
“At 3 AM this morning, we were seeing some dangerously cold Wind Chill readings north of Idaho Falls. The readings will likely bottom out around 7 AM this morning so be prepared for a cold start to your day and limit your outdoor exposure...especially at the bus stop! Stay safe Idaho!”
10:29 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Wind chill alerts cover over 90 million people from the Mexico to Canada border as extreme cold blankets US
From CNN's Dave Hennen
Dangerous — and in some cases life-threatening — cold is diving south and east, with plunging temperatures. Denver and Cheyenne saw record drops in temperatures as the front passed through the cities, and Atlanta and Washington could see their coldest Christmas Eves on record as the extreme cold shifts east.
Wind chill alerts extend from the US-Mexican to the US-Canadian border, covering over 90 million people.
Denver saw temperatures plummet 65 degrees in 16 hours, from 50 degrees on Wednesday afternoon to -15 degrees in the early morning hours on Thursday. In just one hour, Denver dropped nearly 40 degrees.
Wind chills this morning are 40 to 60 degrees below zero, where frostbite can occur in as little as 5 minutes on exposed skin.
Below-zero wind chills have dropped as far south as Texas this morning and will spread through the Southeast.
And as the Arctic front pushes east, the temperatures will plummet, with freeze warnings along the entire Gulf Coast and into Florida.
10:31 a.m. ET, December 22, 2022
Here's what's ahead for the bomb cyclone
From CNN's Dave Hennen
Bomb cyclone is a term given to a rapidly strengthening storm that fulfills one important criterion: Generally, pressure must drop 24 millibars (a unit of pressure) within 24 hours.
That benchmark is also based on the latitude of the storm. So, the millibar requirement can change depending on where the storm forms.
Here's where things stand with the bomb cyclone across the US:
As the storm system continues to strengthen, snow is already falling this morning from Colorado to Michigan.
Blizzard warnings are in effect for over 7 million people, including areas just southwest of the Twin Cities in Minnesota and just south and east of Chicago.
Snow will arrive in Chicago around noon, and temperatures will drop nearly 30 degrees this afternoon as the Arctic cold front passes.
Major cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, St Louis, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Detroit are under winter storm warnings where travel will be severely impacted.