A winter storm warning was issued Monday in Seattle and Western Washington as the rest of the country braces for an Arctic blast and blizzard conditions in the days leading up to Christmas.
Snowfall in the Seattle area began Monday night with between 2 and 6 inches expected, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The city sent out an alert Monday saying people should avoid travel on Tuesday if possible and that emergency shelters were open.
In the Olympic and Cascade mountains, from 5 to 18 inches of snow was likely to fall with the heaviest amounts over Snoqualmie and Stevens passes. Officials said the heaviest snow will fall Tuesday, while snow in the mountains could continue into Wednesday.
Dangerous cold for much of the country was expected to blow in this week as part of an Arctic cold front. Temperatures are likely to drop 25 to 35 degrees in a matter of hours as the Arctic air passes through a given area, according to the NWS.
Snow squalls are forecast in parts of the West, while flash freezes may occur from the Mid-South to the East Coast, the agency warned.
Winds gusting up to 60 mph could drop wind chill temperatures to life-threatening lows of around -40 degrees throughout the central and north-central U.S., according to the NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.
ARCTIC BLAST TO BRING LIFE-THREATENING COLD TO MUCH OF US AHEAD OF CHRISTMAS, FORECASTERS WARN
Wind chill warnings and watches were in effect across 17 states from Washington to Texas, the NOAA said.
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions were forecast to hit much of the Midwest and Great Lakes beginning late Wednesday through Christmas Eve.
Forecasters warned of dangerous travel conditions leading up to Christmas.
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“The next two days are your getaway days. As we go into the end of the week, that’s when we see some big-time issues, especially for Friday,” FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said. “Friday is one of the biggest travel days that we will see for the entire week, and that’s when we will see the majority of the snow, the strongest winds, and of course, a lot of rain, especially for the East Coast.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.