The North American continent can expect to experience the full range of weather phenomena over the coming days as areas in the south experience heat waves and areas in the north are pummeled by blizzards and cold temperatures.
Millions are expected to be ready for the shifting climates, bracing themselves for the combined forces of heat and snow.
Both the U.S. and Canada have been blown away by blistering snow-filled winds, with speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Temperatures fell as low as -50°F (10°C) in some areas, the BBC reported.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has named the coming winter storm, Winter Storm Olive, which is about to plunge many regions on the continent into high levels of snow.
As of Feb. 22, around 75 million people in 28 states in the U.S. were under winter weather alerts that reached New York, New England, the northern Plains and the Great Lakes regions.
According to CNN, more than 850,000 homes, as well as schools and businesses in North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, were shut down in response to blizzards hammering the states.
In the northern states, it’s anticipated that up to 60 centimeters of snow will cover some areas, the largest snowfall in 30 years. Minnesota is seeing around three to seven inches of snow, with more than 160 vehicle crashes reported on Wednesday, Minnesota State Patrol spokesperson Lt. Gordon Shank said on Twitter.
According to Minnesota’s governor Tim Walz, the National Guard will be on standby to help traffic navigate the blizzard conditions. The state is also expecting to face a record-breaking snowfall, officials said.
The storm system is forecast to stretch as far as 1,300 miles from Nebraska to New Hampshire. More than 1,700 flights have been canceled after the storms blinded airways.
Blizzard in California
In Los Angeles, California, where it is usually sunny and warm, it is now expected to experience icy weather, with the area declaring a rare blizzard warning, the first such warning since 1989.
“Nearly the entire population of California will be able to see snow from some vantage point later this week if they look in the right direction,” Daniel Swain, climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said. “Snow remains very unlikely in California’s major cities, but it’ll fall quite nearby,” he added.
In Canada, many areas are under weather alerts, including Toronto, where four to ten inches of snow, ice pellets and freezing rain are forecast to fall on the city. Flights have also ceased to operate due to the storms, with Air Canada canceling around a quarter of its flights by Wednesday afternoon.
Canada initially saw warm temperatures for the month of February, only to suddenly face a build-up of ice in parts of Toronto and in the western provinces where temperatures have dropped to around -20°F (-29°C) in some regions.
Rising heat in the South
As the northern parts of the continent face freezing temperatures, the majority of the southern U.S. will be cooking from abnormally high temperatures. On Thursday, the temperatures could reach as high as 30 to 40 degrees above normal, with more than 30 daily record highs expected to be reported in the region.
McAllen, Texas, reported a blistering temperature of 95°F (35°C), while Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Atlanta and other U.S. cities also face soaring temperatures. Washington D.C. could be hit with 80°F (27°C) on Thursday, while Orlando, Florida, could hit 90°F (32°C) and New Orleans, Louisiana, is expected to reach 84°F (29°C)
CNN reported that the combined mixture of winter storms and the southern heat waves formed a striking 100-degree temperature difference between the Northern Rockies and the South earlier this week.