Gigantic Ice Storm Grips U.S. From Coast to Coast

A coast-to-coast storm is expected to bring heavy snow and freezing rain across the continental U.S., with "almost all of the country experiencing some form of notable weather," according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Over 65 million people in 29 states from California to Maine are under weather alerts, CNN reported. There is the potential for flash flooding in the Midwest and total snowfall is expected to reach about 2 feet. The NWS said snow will taper off in the north through Wednesday and reach the south into Thursday.

As of 8 a.m. ET, winter storm warnings were in place along the West Coast and into Nevada, Wyoming and South Dakota, as well as in neighboring parts of Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Ice storm warnings are also in place for areas of Iowa, southern Wisconsin and Michigan.

Warnings and advisories stretched from Pennsylvania up the East Coast to Maine. Meanwhile, avalanche warnings are in place for parts of western Montana, and blizzard warnings cover areas of Wyoming, the Dakotas and Minnesota.

US ice storm blizzard
A man clears his sidewalk along South Park Avenue on December 28, 2022, in Buffalo, New York and (inset) a frozen water fountain in Byrant Park in New York City on December 27, 2022. A coast-to-coast winter storm is expected to bring icy conditions to a vast swathe of the U.S. John Normile/TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

Forecasters at AccuWeather said the same winter storm stretching across the U.S. could result in icing across a 1,300-mile band from Omaha, Nebraska, to New Hampshire. In December, a cold snap saw below-zero temperatures and snow reaching as far south as the Gulf Coast.

The northern plains are expected to bear the brunt of the storm, with heavy snow rates of 1-2 inches an hour and high winds creating whiteout conditions, "making travel treacherous to impossible and potentially leading to scattered power outages," the NWS said in a forecast on Wednesday morning.

Many schools have been pre-emptively shut for the day in the region's states, according to the Associated Press, as has the Minnesota Legislature, which will reconvene next Monday.

The NWS said total snowfall in southern Minnesota could approach 2 feet, opening the door for a locally record-breaking blizzard; the largest snow event on record in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul was in 1991, when 28.4 inches fell.

Wind chills are expected to dip to -45 degrees Fahrenheit in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on Thursday morning, and will remain below -25 degrees for the remainder of the day. A "dangerous" cold will continue into the weekend, with similar temperatures on Friday and Saturday, the NWS said.

While many are experiencing freezing conditions, "significantly anomalous" warm temperatures for the time of year are expected for other areas of the country, particularly in the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic, where temperatures "will feel more like June than February," the NWS said.

US precipitation forecast Feb 22
A precipitation forecast by the National Weather Service for February 22, 2023. It shows rain, snow and ice will blanket western and northern states from the Pacific to the Atlantic. NWS

Even the central Californian valleys may see some snow on Wednesday night, while the state braces for thunderstorms and heavy rain on Thursday. Meteorologists in the San Francisco bay area have already seen reports of downed trees, roof damage and debris in the area.

"Nearly the entire population of CA will be able to see snow from some vantage point later this week if they look in the right direction," UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote on Twitter.

There will be no let-up for the state, as the NWS predicts a storm front will make landfall from the Pacific late on Thursday.

The forecast comes just weeks after California was battered by a series of deadly storms that brought severe flooding, left thousands of homes without power and led to thousands of families being evacuated.