Biden urges Americans to travel early as massive snowstorm forecast to hit US

President Joe Biden participates in a briefing on winter storms in the United States in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 12, 2022, in Washington.

Patrick Semansky | AP

President Joe Biden warned Americans traveling ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend to be cautious and leave early to avoid the massive storm expected to hit several states Thursday night.

“This isn’t like a snowy day when you were a kid,” Biden said. “This is serious stuff.”

Biden was briefed by officials with the National Weather Service and FEMA in the Oval Office Thursday morning. Blizzard, ice storm and winter storm warnings affect large parts of the continental US. Wind chill, frost and flood warnings apply to other areas.

The National Weather Service website warns of a “widespread and dangerous Arctic explosion” approaching that will cause “life-threatening cold” and “consume much of the lower 48”. The Midwest and Great Lakes regions are expected to receive the bulk of the snowfall, with almost all of the Great Plains region under a wind chill warning. The storm will have “widespread disruptive and potentially debilitating effects across the central and eastern United States.”

Airlines canceled more than 2,800 flights Wednesday through Friday, according to tracking site FlightAware. This period includes the airlines’ expected busiest travel times before Christmas, i.e. on Sunday.

American, Southwest, United, Delta, Spirit, JetBlue, Alaska and other airlines have issued weather waivers for dozens of destinations across the country, allowing travelers to change their departures without paying a change fee or fare difference.

Regardless of how they plan to travel, Biden encouraged Americans to listen to directions and be careful.

“I encourage everyone, everyone, please heed local alerts,” Biden said, adding that information can be found at weather.gov.

Biden said the White House has been trying to contact the governors of 26 states expected to be hit by the storm.

CNBC’s Leslie Josephs contributed to this article.

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