Heavy, wind-swept snow to pummel central U.S. following Christmas

As people hit the road and take to the sky in the days following Christmas, a snowstorm is expected to take shape over part of the central United States.

"There is a potential for major travel disruptions with this storm," AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido said.

The storm will first bring rain and snow to California and the Southwest through Christmas Day before gaining strength east of the Rockies at midweek.

While the storm's exact track and corridor of heaviest snow are not set in stone just yet, people living in or traveling through the south-central Rockies, northern Plains and Upper Midwest should prepare for potential delays during post-Christmas travel.

Midweek outlook 12.24 AM
Midweek outlook 12.24 AM

Given the potential for this snowstorm to impact the major hubs of Denver and Minneapolis, ripple-effect delays can spread to airports in other parts of the country that are not directly affected by the storm.

Even travelers across the southern tier of the central United States can experience disruptions, albeit to a lesser extent, due to rain, flooding and severe thunderstorms.

On the northern side of this system, heavy, wind-swept snow will be possible from the south-central Rockies into the north-central Plains and Upper Midwest, according to Vido.

At this time, the greatest risk of accumulating snowfall and travel disruptions may extend from northeastern New Mexico to central and eastern Colorado, western and northern Nebraska, South Dakota, south-central North Dakota, much of Minnesota, central and northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan.

In a portion of this corridor, snow totals can reach 12 inches or more.

Storm Threat central us 12.24 AM
Storm Threat central us 12.24 AM

"Cities like Denver and Minneapolis may contend with this snowstorm Wednesday to Thursday," Vido said.

Snow can linger across the Upper Midwest on Friday, according to Vido.

Gusty winds can further complicate travel conditions by causing blowing and drifting snow and localized whiteouts on the roadways.

People with plans to travel along stretches of interstates 25, 29, 35, 70, 76, 80, 90 and 94 during the second half of the week should closely monitor the forecast in the coming days.

Download the AccuWeather app to get the latest forecast for your route.

"A swath of wintry mix, including ice, is likely to develop in between the plain rain and snow areas of the Central states," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "As with the case of the heaviest snow, the area of wintry mix will depend on the storm's track."

Precipitation can begin as snow in some areas before a push of milder air causes a changeover to a wintry mix or even all rain. Snowfall accumulations may be significantly cut down in such a case.

As colder air wraps in on the back side of the storm, locations that begin as rain could end as a period of heavy snow. This can occur in portions of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and southern Wisconsin.

Continue to check back with AccuWeather for the latest details on this upcoming storm.