US prepares for Arctic weather Washington issues winter storm alert

In Seattle and Western Washington, a winter storm warning was issued Monday, as the rest of the country braces for an Arctic blast and blizzard conditions in the days leading up to Christmas.

According to the NWS, snowfall in the Seattle area began Monday night, with 2 to 6 inches expected. The city issued an alert on Monday advising residents to avoid travel on Tuesday if possible and that emergency shelters were open.

From 5 to 18 inches of snow was expected to fall in the Olympic and Cascade mountains. The heaviest snowfall is expected to fall on Tuesday, with snow in the mountains expected to last into Wednesday.

An Arctic cold front was expected to bring dangerous cold to much of the country this week. According to the NWS, temperatures are likely to drop 25 to 35 degrees in a matter of hours as Arctic air passes through a given area.

Winds gusting up to 60 mph could cause wind chill temperatures in the central and north-central United States to drop to life-threatening lows of around -40 degrees

Blizzard conditions and heavy snow were expected to hit much of the Midwest and Great Lakes beginning late Wednesday and lasting until Christmas Eve.

Wind chill warnings and watches were in effect across 17 states, from Washington to Texas, according to the NOAA.