Christmas blizzard to evolve across north-central US
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 26, 2016, 8:30:28 AM EST
A potent storm will cause dangerous blizzard conditions, resulting in major travel disruptions, over the central United States during Christmas weekend.
A storm more typical of November or March will swing northeastward over the northern Plains during Christmas Day.
The storm will deliver everything from a wintry mix and a blizzard to drenching rain and severe thunderstorms to portions of the central United States.
Snow to spread southward along Interstate 25 Saturday
After departing the Intermountain West with moderate snow and slippery travel conditions, the storm will emerge over the High Plains and begin to strengthen.
Travel conditions will deteriorate from north to south over the Interstate 25 corridor during Saturday around Billings, Montana, to Casper, Wyoming, during Saturday evening. While the worst of the storm will occur north of Denver, enough snow can occur to make for slippery conditions by Sunday morning.
Snow will also develop and spread eastward over the northern Plains. The snow will spread into Bismarck, North Dakota and Rapid City, South Dakota, by Sunday morning.
A light wintry mix will develop in the area from central and eastern South Dakota and Nebraska to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois later Saturday night. In part of this area, the storm will begin as a period of freezing rain or drizzle.
Winds will begin to pick up during Saturday night over much of the Plains.
Blizzard conditions to develop over northern Plains Christmas Day
As the storm strengthens, winds will increase from the southern Plains to the Canada border and as far to the east as the Great Lakes region on Christmas Day.
The strength of the wind will pose problems for light-weight and high-profile vehicles on area highways. Airline delays are possible. Winds could also knock down some holiday decorations and cause power outages, even where thunderstorms do not occur.
A blizzard will develop along the eastern slopes of the Rockies to the northern Plains. Long-distance travel over portions of I-80, I-90 and I-94 may become treacherous due to the potential for whiteout conditions. As a result, portions of these highways may be shut down.
Rain and mild air will erode the zone of ice and wintry mix farther to the north and west. Around Minneapolis, ice will change to rain on Christmas Day.
Farther southeast, milder air will bring rain and wet travel conditions to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.
Farther south, severe weather may threaten lives and property from Christmas afternoon to Christmas night.
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