Severe Winter Storms Could Impact Holiday Travel

The Midwest and Northeast United States will likely be hit by a powerful arctic front and winter storm this weekend, which could make for extremely dangerous travel—possibly effecting millions who are heading home for the Christmas holiday.

According to a tweet by the National Weather Service (NWS), “A powerful winter storm [and] arctic front will produce significant impacts that include extreme cold, heavy snow, damaging winds, & even heavy rainfall across much of the [eastern] two-thirds of the county through the holiday weekend. Dangerous travel is expected for many areas.”

What to know:

A blizzard is expected to develop Wednesday night, strengthening through Friday morning, effecting the Central/North Plains, the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes. Heavy snowfall of one to two inches per hour and wind gusts of 50-plus mph “will result in near-zero visibility.” The NWS says this could lead to dangerous—if not impossible—land and air travel leading up to the weekend.

The storm could result in power outages, while dangerous wind chills will become hazardous—even life-threatening—for travelers who become stranded.

Further east, heavy rain and melting snowpack will likely cause flooding on Friday. Wind gusts of 50 mph are also expected, which could lead to downed trees and power outages.

Major U.S. airlines—including Delta, United, American, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Alaska Airlines—have issued travel waivers to effected travelers. See each site for the airline’s specific advisory. You can also check out websites like AirHelp to learn more about passenger rights and whether you’re entitled to compensation.

According to Hopper, around 54 million passengers are expected to depart from U.S airports during the holiday period (December 18 to January 3)—which is 20 percent more than last year and 4 percent more than pre-pandemic 2019. During Christmas, nearly 29 million people are expected to fly, with the Thursday and Friday before Christmas Eve set to be among the busies travel days of the year (3.34 million passengers a day).

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