(CNN) — A powerful storm that left more than 700,000 customers across the Pacific Northwest without power and propelled several cities in the region to their wettest start of any year on record is gaining steam as it moves east. Parts of at least a dozen states and nearly 30 million Americans are under a combination of alerts. Strong winds and snow are expected.
The affected area stretches from the northern plains to the upper Midwest, as the difference in air pressure between a high pressure zone in the southwest and the low inlet from the northwest generates strong winds throughout the region.
On Wednesday, parts of eastern Montana and the Dakotas reported hurricane-force winds and spring heat as temperatures soared about 3 to 6 degrees Celsius above average.
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“It has been exceptionally mild for what is usually the coldest time of year,” according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.
“Much of the region was between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and some locations even reached 15 degrees Celsius. Strong winds will usher in more seasonal conditions with temperatures generally between 30 and 40 degrees on Thursday, “says Ward.
As of early Thursday, there were nearly 245,000 customers still without power in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, according to data from PowerOutages.US.
As the storm moves toward the Midwest on Thursday, cool air behind the system is greeted with enough moisture to trigger persistent snowfall, gusts of winds, and periods of blizzard-like conditions in parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. .
However, the system is in no rush to move across the region, and the impacts could last into Friday for millions of people in the Great Lakes. This prolonged snowfall, accompanied by periods of heavy lake effect snow on the southern shore of Lake Superior, will result in widespread snowfall of 7 to 15 centimeters of snow in the upper Midwest, possibly as high as 6-25 centimeters in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.
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A secondary low pressure will build up along the cold front when the system reaches the east coast between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Most of the area will see rain, not snow, thanks to the relatively mild January temperatures.
Places like New York City and Boston will be between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius on Saturday, 1 to 2.5 centimeters of rain instead of the snow they would receive if the temperatures were colder.
Snowfall on Friday night and Saturday will be limited to upstate New York and northern New England. For the most part, even at those locations they are only expected to see 5 to 12 centimeters fall, although some of the higher elevation favored spots could see more than 6 inches of snow.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism