By Jack Phillips
Blizzard and winter storm warnings were issued in numerous counties in several states as a large winter storm continues eastward across the United States on Monday.
The National Weather Service’s map shows blizzard warnings in effect in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado as of Monday, Dec. 12. Winter storm warnings were issued across a broader range of states.
A “major storm system” will “bring significant, widespread weather hazards from severe weather to blizzard conditions” across the central United States, the agency warned. “A strong winter storm that continues to produce heavy snow over the Intermountain West will transition into the Plains with multiple hazards,” it added on its front page, noting that there will be “significant travel impacts across the north and central Plains” region.
After impacting the Plains states, the storm will move to the northeast and will dump snow across the Midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa this week. Then, forecasters say the system will sweep over New York, Pennsylvania, and northern New Jersey by Thursday.
The Weather Channel named the storm “Winter Storm Diaz,” although only the Weather Channel and no other news outlets or agencies name storms. Currently, the storm is producing significant amounts of snow in the northern, central, and southern Rocky Mountains, while rainfall is spreading from Southern California to other areas in the southwestern U.S.
Up to four to five feet of snow already fell in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains, namely around the Lake Tahoe area, over the past weekend, according to the channel.
“A potent area of low pressure is set to form over Colorado and Kansas Monday. This will pull moist air northward from the Gulf of Mexico, combining it with bitterly cold air from the polar regions in Canada. With the two put together, a major snowstorm is in the cards from Colorado to Minnesota into midweek,” said another forecaster, Thomas Geiger, in an AccuWeather report on Monday.
But he added that “across much of central and southern Minnesota, a heavy glaze of ice may be more impactful than the snow,” adding that ice could create more hazards and damage than several inches of snow.
The cold temperatures and snowfall are sure to drive up energy prices even further. By Monday morning, traders sent natural gas prices higher—likely due to the winter storm—by upwards of 12 percent, according to reports.
Last month, the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) warned consumers that they should expect to pay around 45 percent more for heating oil this winter than the previous one.
The Biden administration set aside $4.5 billion in November to help cover costs for some residents, according to a White House news release. Those funds will be doled out via the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program “to help cover home heating costs, settle unpaid utility bills, and make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower families’ heating and cooling bills,” the release said.
“The levers the government can pull are extremely limited,” Severin Borenstein at University of California at Berkeley’s Energy Institute told Marketplace.org about the White House plan. “The diesel and heating oil problem in particular, is much tougher to address.”
Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom on Dec. 7 announced an energy partnership aimed at sustaining a higher level of liquefied natural gas exports to Britain and collaborating on ways to increase energy efficiency. It comes as Britain and other European countries have turned to the United States as they try to reduce their reliance on Russian energy supplies following the Ukraine–Russia war’s start in February.
“This partnership will bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.
The United States became the world’s largest liquid natural gas exporter in the first half of 2022, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed as the country rapidly increased its export capacity and high prices, particularly in Europe led to higher exports.
Reuters contributed to this report.