A blustery winter storm is expected to sweep through nearly 2,000 miles of the central United States starting on Tuesday evening, bringing a mix of freezing temperatures, heavy snow and potentially hazardous traveling conditions from parts of New Mexico and Texas up through Illinois and Michigan, weather officials said.
At various times through this week, a winter storm watch is forecast to be in effect from central New Mexico up through northern Vermont. A small portion of Colorado and Kansas, along with a large swath of the Midwest, is also expected to be under a winter storm warning.
Parts of New Mexico are expected to get as much as 14 inches of snow — most on Wednesday night — and some lower-lying areas will remain below freezing from Tuesday night through Friday or Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. By Friday morning, the temperatures in parts of eastern New Mexico could feel like 20 to 25 degrees below zero, with the wind chill factor, said Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.
“It’s uncommon for us to have the combination of snow with the temperatures that we’re expected to see” in New Mexico, Mr. Guyer said.
In addition, other parts of the United States unaccustomed to such wintry weather, like central Texas, are once again bracing for snow and freezing wind chills. Nearly a dozen people died across the country during an icy storm in February 2021 in which temperatures in Austin, Texas, were colder than those in Anchorage, Alaska.
Some freezing rain and ice accumulation are expected by Wednesday evening in parts of Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding areas, the Weather Service office there said Monday. Starting Wednesday morning, wind chills are expected to make the Fort Worth area feel as if it’s 10 degrees below zero, Monique Sellers, a meteorologist with the Weather Service there, said.
“That wind chill is going to make it pretty dangerous for anyone who is outside for any amount of time,” mainly during the overnight and early hours, she said.
The unusually cold weather expected in central Texas is a result of a cold system from the Arctic interacting with warmer air carrying large amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, “and it is colliding right over us,” Ms. Sellers said.
In Pueblo, Colo., the wind chill could make it feel as low as 20 degrees below zero along the southern Interstate 25 corridor in Fremont County and Wet Mountain Valley areas, the Weather Service said on Monday.
The foothills of Colorado could get six to 12 inches of snow, while Denver and the urban corridor could get about half that amount, according to the Weather Service meteorologist Caitlyn Mensch.
In Kansas, a mix of rain and sleet “will change to all snow” on Tuesday night and continue through late Wednesday, the Weather Service said on Monday morning.
Two or three waves of snowfall starting on Tuesday are expected to ultimately bring four to five inches of snow in south-central and eastern Kansas, and as much as a foot of snow in far eastern Kansas, according to Kevin Darmofal, a meteorologist in the state with the Weather Service.
Winds up to 20 to 30 miles per hour on Wednesday night could complicate snow removal efforts in Kansas, Mr. Darmofal said. Those winds “will cause blowing and drifting snow,” which will also make traveling more difficult, he said.
Chicago is bracing for two rounds of snow, the brunt of which is expected Wednesday, just after midnight, until midday, according to Gino Izzi, a Weather Service meteorologist there.
“It’s kind of a one-two punch from the storm,” Casey Sullivan, another meteorologist with the Weather Service in Chicago, said. While north of O’Hare Airport may see only an inch or two of snow, he said, the South Side and nearby suburbs could get eight to 12 inches, Mr. Sullivan said.
The Illinois Department of Transportation warned people on Monday that there would be “significant ice accumulations and heavy rain” in the southern part of the state over the next few days.
In Michigan, nine to 16 inches of snow is expected starting around 2 a.m. Wednesday through 11 p.m. Thursday, and a winter storm warning will be in effect at that time in several counties, including Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun and Jackson Counties, the Weather Service announced.
“This will be a prolonged period of snow,” the Weather Service warned residents in those areas. The precipitation will start as rain late Tuesday and turn into snow later, with the heaviest snowfall expected by Wednesday afternoon, the Weather Service said. By early Thursday morning, “it could be snowing nearly an inch an hour,” it said.
It’s the latest winter storm to hit the United States this year. A snowstorm over the weekend from North Carolina to New England dumped nearly two feet of snow in Boston, tying a single-day record set in 2003.
The heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures in Boston mean snow removal efforts will “continue for days ahead,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city’s chief of streets, said.