With Blizzard-Like Conditions Possible Ahead of Christmas, Travelers Advised to Alter Plans

The National Weather Service has encouraged people to begin considering alternate travel plans, saying bitter cold air and strong winds could cause dangerous conditions.

A large swath of the Midwest could see a major winter storm later this week, bringing blizzard-like conditions and intense winds, along with likely altering travel plans for millions venturing out of town ahead of Christmas.

While forecasts are unclear as to how much snow may actually fall in the Chicago area - and the storm could still take one of several paths - it's clear that a snow event will coincide with fierce winds starting Thursday and into Friday.

With the possible snowstorm set to arrive two to three days prior to Christmas, which is historically a busy travel time, people are being encouraged to change plans - if they can do so. In a tweet early Monday, the National Weather Service encouraged people to begin considering alternate travel plans, saying bitter cold air and strong winds could cause dangerous conditions.

As hazardous conditions aren't expected until Thursday, it might be your best bet to hit the road on Tuesday or Wednesday, if you're set on going elsewhere for Christmas. If you're having a holiday gathering at home, you might want to do some planning, too, and make sure you have everything you need to avoid venturing out later in the week and invite your guests ahead of time.

No matter what your plans are, you'll want to stock up on all necessary supplies in case you're unable to leave home for a few days. It's recommended that you have an emergency kit, including non-perishable food items and bottled water.

With strong winds likely, you'll want to prepare for the possibility of power outages, too, and keep that emergency kit nearby.

With accumulating snow expected across the entire state, the Illinois Department of Transportation tweeted a reminder about what to keep in your vehicle - and to double check you have everything.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications has also warned residents to be prepared for possible dangerous driving conditions.

“If you must travel, share your plan with friends or family, use extreme caution, allow room between vehicles and yield to snow-plows and salt trucks," OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice stated in a news release.

While the potential storm is days away, multiple airlines have already issued winter weather advisories for portions of the region. Dozens of Midwest airports, including those in Peoria and Springfield, are listed under the "travel alert" category on American Airlines' website, meaning passengers can make flight changes without a fee.

Southwest Airlines said on its website that scheduled serviced may be disrupted between Wednesday and Friday at 12 airports, including Midway and O'Hare international airports. Customers on those flights may rebook in their original class of service without any additional charge, the airline stated.

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