A blast of Arctic air is going to engulf the lower 48 states, dropping temperatures as much as 30 degrees below average.

No region is being spared, including the usually temperate South, the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest.

The brunt of the blast is expected to arrive Dec. 21 and linger through Christmas, dropping temperatures into single digits or even below zero, according to weather.com.

Ahead of the extreme cold, some regions will be dealing with heavy snow, including the Northeast and the Great Lakes areas.

Homeless suffer: In Sacramento, the bone-chilling cold is driving the homeless into shelters in numbers officials say they have not seen before.

In all, the county has been assisting nearly 400 people a night for the past three weeks. It’s the most people they’ve had during a weather activation by far, according to KRCA.

“The fact that there are more people unsheltered on the street definitely means that there are more people that need these services and I think that the duration of this cold weather event also plays a part,” said Sacramento County’s Janna Haynes who works with the Homeless Initiatives division, as quoted by KRCA. “We’re seeing seven, eight, nine days where the temperatures overnight are really low.”

Since 2020, the Sacramento County Coroner’s office has recorded 14 hypothermia-related deaths among homeless individuals.

Industry preparing: The cold snap also has industry on its heels.

The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a warning on Thursday to oil and gas pipeline operators that next week will see “significantly colder temperatures.”

View Comments

A statement from the RRC of Texas cited the National Weather Service, which is predicting periods of colder temperatures for the latter part of next week. The RRC is recommending that oil and gas pipeline operators monitor weather reports, and secure all personnel, equipment and facilities to prevent injury, as well as prepare operations for potential impacts.

In February 2021, Texas found itself woefully underprepared for freezing temperatures. When Texas temperatures dip as low as they did then, the state relies heavily on natural gas. But its natural-gas-fired power plants faced myriad problems such as components freezing, forcing some shutdowns, according to Oilprice.com.

Did renewable energy cause Texas grid failure? Could it happen in Utah?

The cold hit Utah on Thursday and will linger for a few days. The Salt Lake International Airport was logging 22 degrees Friday morning.

More storm activity is forecasted for next week, leaving people hopeful there might be a fresh, white Christmas after all.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.