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President Biden addressed members of the media on Thursday as a “life-threatening” winter storm bared down on the country. With nearly two-thirds of the United States under an official advisory for dangerous arctic wind chills, many are bracing for “a once in a generation” event.
From his desk in the Oval Office, Biden urged Americans “from Oklahoma to Wyoming to Washington” to heed warnings from local officials.
“If you have travel plans, leave now” President Biden said to Americans planning to fly or drive for the holiday. “I am telling my staff to leave now,” Biden said. “They can talk to me on the phone if they need me.”
“It’s not a matter of life or death,” Biden continued, giving a subtle urge to other employers to allow their employees to avoid the storm. “But it could be if they don’t leave now.”
The massive winter storm sweeping across the United States is causing a travel nightmare from coast to coast.
According to Flightstatus, delays across North America were rated as “excessive” by Thursday morning. While delays at some airports were decreasing, experts predict the blast of wind and arctic air approaching after heavy rain and snow will compound issues.
While significant travel disruptions will cause frustration for millions around the holiday, officials fear for the safety of vulnerable Americans.
Dangerously cold temperatures will plunge much of the country into a deep freeze over the Christmas weekend. Windchill values in Minneapolis will dip below -30. Farther south in Tulsa, windchills will be as low as -20 with areas around Atlanta seeing outdoor temperatures feel as cold as -5.
Cities across the country prepare to support most vulnerable in historic winter storm.
Significant investments have been made in cities across the country to support unhoused Americans since the 2021 freeze. Many, however, remain at serious risk.
Shelters are opening up nationwide, with many local organizations in communities across the country activating to provide supplies and support.
In addition, the number of at risk residents has only increased as an influx of migrants seek asylum in cities across the country.
In Denver, temperatures plunged more than 30 degrees in under an hour as the arctic storm hit Wednesday. Mayor Michael Hancock says more than 1300 migrants have arrived in the city in the last three weeks. Half of these new residents to the city have required support finding shelter. Mayor Hancock says the city has stepped up in moments of need to help its struggling residents.
“Donations of all kinds have been pouring in — clothing, blankets, toys for kids,” Hancock said. “It has absolutely been an incredible thing to watch and I want to thank all of Denver for leaning in.”
Conditions across the country are expected to begin improving from west to east on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.