Temperatures could plummet as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (27.8°C) across portions of the north-central United States on Wednesday night, ahead of what may be a record-breaking fall snowstorm. Below freezing temperatures are expected to sweep in from the north, followed by a low-pressure system coming from over the Rockies that will spread across the Plains that is forecast to leave heavy snow blanketing the region.
The sudden change in temperatures will see most of Colorado turn from its current hazardous fire conditions to freezing weather in only a matter of hours. Denver is forecast to see a 60-degree (33.3°C) drop—from 80°F to 20°F (26.7°C to -6.7°C)—overnight, according to the National Weather Service’s Denver office.
The sharp drop in temperature is expected to be felt in northern Texas by Friday morning, with Amarillo forecast to see a 56-degree drop, from the region’s current 85°F to a frigid 29°F (29.5°C to -1.7°C) over a 36-hour span.
The upcoming snowstorm is being called a “potentially historic October winter storm” by the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office, as portions of no less than 10 states from the northern Rockies to the northern Plains are currently under a winter watch, warning or advisory. Snow depths of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm) are expected to fall across the Plains Wednesday night, with a similar amount expected to blanket the Dakotas Thursday night.
Wind gusts of 40-50 mph (64.4-80.5 km/h) are also forecast, that will produce blizzard conditions when combined with the heavy snow, causing potential power outages and making travel conditions hazardous. The snow is expected to continue through Friday in both North and South Dakota, and will move into Minnesota by Saturday. By then it is also expected to reach as far east as Minneapolis, before the storm moves into Canada.