Christmas weekend storm to bring snow, severe weather in central US

By Alex Sosnowski for

Snow, wind and rain could threaten travel over a large part of the central United States this weekend, centered on Christmas Day.

While only minor weather-related travel issues are anticipated for much of the nation this week, a large and major storm will develop during the Christmas weekend.

People with long-distance or local travel plans from Saturday to Monday along the Interstate 25, I-70, I-80, I-90 and I-94 corridors from the High Plains to the Upper Midwest should monitor the forecast and storm's progress.

The parent storm system is currently over the Pacific Ocean. The storm is projected to move onshore over northern California Friday morning.

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Dan Glisczinski makes his way to an appointment by bicycle following a snowfall in Duluth, Minnesota November 10, 2014. An arctic blast began to dump heavy snow in parts of the northern Rockies, Plains and the Great Lakes regions on Monday and meteorologists said temperatures are expected to plummet throughout the United States. In Minnesota, police said dozens of car crashes marked the season's first snow as drivers struggled with slippery roads.REUTERS/Robert King/Duluth News-Tribune (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT)
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 This is a shot of Mount Rainier from Paradise during a early winter snow covering.

The storm will then move rather quickly across the Intermountain West with low-elevation rain and high-elevation snow from California to Colorado on Saturday, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

"However, the storm may strengthen and reduce its forward speed as it travels northeastward from the central Plains toward the Upper Midwest from Christmas Day to Monday," Anderson said.

Direct impacts are possible on the major cities of Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri.

If the storm develops to its full potential, then the impacts could range from major travel disruptions to power outages and property damage.

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The intense version of this storm could cause high winds, as well as flooding rain and severe weather on its southeastern flank, but snow, plunging temperatures and blizzard conditions will be on its northwestern flank, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

"The exact track and strength of such a strong storm would determine not only where the weather battle zone between rain, ice and snow would be, but also the northern and eastward extent of severe thunderstorms," Margusity said.

With a potential major storm in the Central states, the weather in the eastern and western thirds of the nation could be tranquil on Christmas Day.

There is the potential for heavy snow and wind to spread into part of southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario by Monday.

From Saturday through Monday, ripple-effect delays can affect airlines across the nation if crews and aircraft are displaced because of a major storm over the Central states.

RELATED: 10 of the biggest snowstorms in history

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10. The Knickerbocker Storm of 1922

View of a car buried in snow during the so-called Knickerbocker Storm, a blizzard that dropped 28 inches of snow on Washington DC, January 28, 1922. The storm, which also affected a large portion of the Eastern Seaboard, was named after the collapse of DC's Knickerbocker Theatre, caused by the excess weight of the snow on the structure's roof, which resulted in 98 deaths and 113 injuries; later, both the building's owner and architect committed suicide.

(Photo by Herbert A. French/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

9. Blizzard Of 1888

A man stands by a snow hut, after the Great Blizzard of 1888, with U.S. Capitol in background, Washington, D.C. According to, 55 inches of snow piled up in some areas and hundreds of people were killed.

(Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

8. The Blizzard of 1996

The Blizzard of '96 was a severe nor'easter that paralyzed the U.S. East Coast with up to 4 feet of wind-driven snow from January 6 to January 8, 1996. It is one of only two snowstorms to receive the top rating of 5, or 'Extreme', on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale. Looking west down Penn. Ave from the US Capitol during the Blizzard.

(Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

7. 2008 Blizzard in Tibet

Journeying outside of the Unites States, Tibet got a surprise storm that lasted 36 hours and dropped upwards of five feet of snow causing buildings to collapse and at least seven deaths

(Photo credit: Getty)

6. 1959 storm on Mount Shasta

Number six is the storm on Mount Shasta in California in 1959 which unloaded 189 inches of snow on the locals and is considered the largest snowfall from a single storm in North America according to NOAA.

(Photo by Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

2. Blizzard of 1977

At number two is the blizzard of '77 in Buffalo, New York. Powerful and sustained winds created massive snow drifts.

(Photo by Ira Block/National Geographic/Getty Images)

5. Blizzard of 1971

Next is the Eastern Canadian Blizzard of 1971. It is said the event closed down the Montreal Forum, canceling a Montreal Canadiens hockey game, something that hasn't occurred since the flu epidemic of 1918.

(Photo by Dave Norris/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

4. New England Blizzard of 1978

At number four is the New England Blizzard of 1978. Stalling over New England, this storm struck during the day, dropping over 27 inches of snow and stranding many at schools, businesses and others in their cars.

(Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

3. The Great Snow of 1717

Then there was the Great Snow of 1717 over the New England Area. With five feet of snow already on the ground, around four more fell on top of that creating drifts as tall as 25 feet, burying entire houses.

(Photo via Getty Images)

1. Blizzard of 1967

But the storm to top them all is the Blizzard of 1967. Laying waste to the Midwest, this storm took 76 lives, set the record snowfall for Chicago with 23 inches and was preceded by a severe tornado outbreak with temperatures in the 60's.

(Photo by Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)


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