President Biden warned travelers to “leave now” or face canceled plans amid a massive winter storm sweeping the U.S. on Thursday.
Biden confirmed the White House has reached out to at least 26 governors in affected states and is prepared to provide federal assistance. Biden told reporters the storm is “not like a snow day” before entering a meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS).
Blizzard conditions are threatening winter travel plans across the Great Plains and the Midwest. The NWS has warned that conditions could become life-threatening for travelers in many areas if they become stranded in their vehicles.
“I encourage everyone, everyone to please heed the local warnings. We’ve tried to contact 26 governors so far in affected regions,” Biden said.
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The storm is expected to create record-low temperatures for Christmas weekend in many areas.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport saw a record 7.4 inches of snowfall within 24 hours on Wednesday, and windy, cold conditions are expected to remain throughout the weekend.
“Widespread light-to-moderate snowfall is expected for this region, along with localized totals over a foot to the south and east of the Great Lakes where lake effect snow is forecast to linger into Saturday,” the NWS said Thursday morning in an advisory.
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“The snowfall totals may not seem all that impressive with this storm, but combined with very strong winds over an extended period of time will create blizzard conditions that can bring travel to a halt and strain infrastructure,” it continued.
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“Heavy snowfall rates of 1-2″/hour, along with wind gusts of over 50 mph will result in near-zero visibility and considerable blowing and drifting of snow,” the advisory went on. “This will lead to dangerous, to at times impossible, land and air travel leading up to the holiday weekend.”