The storm threatens to wreak havoc for millions of people from Idaho to Wisconsin and south to Arizona and New Mexico through Thursday as it slowly creeps east, warned the National Weather Service (NWS).
“This developing storm system will bring numerous, widespread and impactful weather hazards to the heart of the country this week,” the NWS said.
Blizzard warnings were in effect for parts of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where up to 60 cm of snow and wind gusts of 97 km per hour were expected, the NWS said. .
“Prepare your shovels, get groceries and check for other necessary supplies. The roads will be tough to navigate,” emergency management officials for Pennington County, South Dakota, said in a Tweet, noting that the area expected at least 15cm of snow.
Snow and winds are expected to cause whiteout conditions on the roads, making driving treacherous if not impossible for motorists, the NWS has warned.
Several school districts in Idaho, South Dakota and Nebraska delayed the start of classes or canceled them altogether on Monday due to the weather.
Storms were also expected in Minnesota and Wisconsin where a panorama of snow and ice as well as high winds were expected.
Parts of the region will see freezing rain that will produce ice accumulations of up to half an inch. The ice could bring down trees and power lines, causing possible power outages, according to the NWS.
In addition to snow and winds, temperatures in the region could drop to -20 Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius), a level that causes frostbite on exposed skin in just 30 minutes.
To the south, parts of Arizona and New Mexico could experience strong gusts of wind and consistent snow aloft, the service said.