New York Daily News: By Jessica Schladebeck – A huge winter storm poised to snarl traffic for millions of holiday travelers nationwide is forecast to strike parts of New York. Meteorologists expect heavy rains, fierce winds and flooding, to be followed by what will likely be the coldest Christmas in decades.

Conditions are expected to rapidly deteriorate Thursday. After rainfall starts to increase, New Yorkers can expect unrelenting gusts of wind, with maximum speeds of 50 mph, according to AccuWeather. While there does not appear to be any major snow accumulations forecast for the city, the city could see as much as 3 inches of rain before the weekend is through.

Meteorologists said temperatures are expected hover around 50 degrees on Friday before dropping up to 30 degrees by sundown. On Saturday, New Yorkers will likely face a frigid Christmas Eve, with highs as low as 25 degrees.

FILE - The Statue of Liberty is pictured in New York Harbor on a rainy day in New York City.
FILE – The Statue of Liberty is pictured in New York Harbor on a rainy day in New York City – Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The storm system walloped parts of the Plains and Midwest earlier this week before setting its sights on the East Coast. It has already started chilling parts of the Texas panhandle, where temperatures in some areas dipped below 0 degrees on Thursday. States across the Great Plains similarly saw temperatures plummet, with some meteorologists reporting drops as big as 50 degrees in a matter of hours.

Residents in the Great Lakes states have also hunkered down, with meteorologists warning of a likely “bomb cyclone” in the area. The term refers to a rapidly strengthening storm with a massive increase in pressure. It’s expected to bring about blizzard conditions in the area.

Windchill advisories affecting about 135 million people are also slated to be issued over the coming days.

“This is not like a snow day when you were a kid,” President Joe Biden warned Thursday in the Oval Office following a briefing from federal officials. “This is serious stuff.”

Officials also warned of potential power failures caused by the storm and urged people to take precautions to protect older and unhoused members of their community — and to postpone travel, if possible.

“This event could be life-threatening if you are stranded with wind chills in the 30 below to 45 below zero range,” according to an online post by the National Weather Service in Minnesota, where transportation and patrol officials reported dozens of crashes and vehicles off the road.

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 2,000 flights had been canceled within, into or out of the U.S., according to FlightAware, most them at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Denver International Airport.

A man clears snow off a sidewalk Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in Minneapolis.
A man clears snow off a sidewalk Thursday, Dec 22, 2022, in Minneapolis – Abbie Parr/AP

Southwest Airlines had the most flight cancellations of any airline.

Weather conditions caused by winter storms are resulting in multiple disruptions across the country,” Southwest Airlines wrote in a travel advisory update.

Earlier this week, airlines including Southwest, United and American provided travel waivers in anticipation of the winter weather.

With News Wire Services

Top Feature Photo: Travelers unload from cars Thursday, Dec 22, 2022 at Terminal 1 of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis – Kerem Yücel/AP