Winter storm warnings are stretching from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania, while New England and much of the Northeast can expect rain and gusting winds on Wednesday and Thursday. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.By NBC News staff and wire reports
Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET: A strong winter storm was expected to bring a white Christmas morning to millions of Americans Tuesday - but also high winds and even the risk of tornadoes for some, weather.com reported.
The Midwest and Gulf states were set to receive the bulk of the snow as the front blanketed the Rockies and the Plains from Colorado to Texas. Snow covered the roads in Denver on Christmas morning, weather.com reported.
The storm is set to turn to the north and travel up to the mid-Atlantic East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday, causing potential holiday travel misery for many.
According to the flightstats.com website, 80 flights had been canceled and 505 had been delayed across the U.S. as of 9:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday. It was not known how many of these problems were due to the weather.
The storm is also likely to affect car travelers. More than 93.3 million people are expected to take to the road during the holiday season, the AAA said.
Travel delays could persist into Thursday morning along the East Coast due to “low clouds, wind, and potential changeover to light snow,” weather.com reported.
Over the weekend the storm dumped 6 feet of snow in some areas of the Sierra, weather.com reported.
‘You definitely have to drive slow’
North Texas residents awoke to thunderstorms and hail on Christmas morning, NBCDFW.com reported. As the storm moves east, parts of Northern Texas are likely to see up to four inches of snow, with an inch expected in Dallas and Fort Worth in the afternoon, the site reported. Road crews in Texas are preparing for the rare Christmas storm with the Texas Department of Transportation closely monitoring the roads, a spokesman told the website.
"You definitely have to worry about everyone while you're driving, especially out here," Dallas resident Jerdal Whitaker told NBCDFW. "We're not used to the weather that comes, especially when it's ugly, so you definitely have to drive slow."
Traveling could be tricky in certain parts of the U.S., where blizzards and severe storms are expected to last through the evening on Christmas day. The Weather Channel's Paul Goodloe reports.
Some mountainous areas of Arkansas' Ozark Mountains could get up to 10 inches of snow amid warnings that travel could become "very hazardous or impossible" in the northern part of the state from near whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said.
A blizzard warning is also in effect around Memphis, Tenn. from 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, while in Kansas, as much as 3 inches of snow could fall on Christmas day, NBC affiliate KSN.com reported.
In Oklahoma, freezing rain changed to sleet and snow on Christmas morning, with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety saying that some bridges and overpasses were already becoming slick.
Authorities along the Gulf Coast have warned residents to be on the lookout for strong tornadoes or winds of more than 75 mph, heavy rain, quarter-sized hail and dangerous lightning on Tuesday morning.
"Please plan now for how you will receive a severe weather warning, and know where you will go when it is issued. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help everyone have a safe Christmas," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said.
The winter weather is expected to arrive in the Northeast on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing significant precipitation, although it’s not yet known if it will be rain or snow. The big cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia, will likely see rain rather than snow, with high wind gusts up to 60 mph, weather.com meteorologist Mike Seidel said on TODAY.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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