An unusually intense Arctic cold front that will send temperatures tumbling by up to 40°F in a couple of hours is beginning its march south and east this morning, likely reaching Colorado this evening, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: This front, along with an accompanying rapidly intensifying storm known as a bomb cyclone, will engulf the entire Lower 48 states east of the Rockies in extreme weather through the weekend.

Context: As cold as temperatures will get, winter is the fastest-warming season for most of the U.S., and it’s unlikely many all-time cold records will be set.

By the numbers: minus-70°F: Coldest wind chill that is forecast for this event, in eastern Wyoming, as frigid air combines with howling winds.

Minus-5°F to minus-10°F: Forecast high temperature in Denver on Thursday, in what may be the city’s coldest day in 32 years, per the National Weather Service.
177 million: The number of people across the Lower 48 states under winter weather warnings, watches and advisories for extreme cold, heavy snow and related hazards.
26 states: The area covered by wind chill warnings and watches, from the Canadian border to Texas Gulf Coast.
What they’re saying: “This will not be your average cold front,” NWS said in a forecast discussion.

The bottom line: The Arctic outbreak and bomb cyclone, the latter of which will intensify over the Great Lakes Thursday, are poised to cause havoc for travelers trying to get home for the holidays.

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