'A treacherous start to 2022' in the forecast after record rain in Los Angeles and wind-fueled wildfires in Colorado – USA TODAY

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The last day of 2021 and the first day of 2022 will continue the string of recent wild weather across much of the nation: Severe thunderstorms, heavy snow, bitter cold and freakish warmth are all on the docket.
“From bitterly cold wind chills and travel-disruptive snowfall totals to severe storms and flash flooding, (the weather) will make for a treacherous start to 2022,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Peter Mullinax in an online forecast
In the South on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, another round of severe storms, including the chance for tornadoes, will plague the region. Cities most at risk on Friday include Dallas, Memphis and Nashville, while the threat area on Saturday includes cities such as Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta.
In northern Georgia, a tornado struck Newton County on Friday evening, downing power lines, overturning vehicles and uprooting trees, according to the National Weather Service in Atlanta. The storm damaged a school building and left a handful of people with minor injuries, the Covington News reported.
Storms are likely to hold off during most of the daylight hours on Friday, AccuWeather said. However, on Friday evening, thunderstorms are forecast to erupt and rapidly turn severe from the Red River Valley of Texas and Oklahoma to the middle Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and progress eastward into the Tennessee Valley during the nighttime hours on New Year’s Eve, according to AccuWeather.
Along with the threat for severe storms comes the chance for flash floods from heavy rainfall, the Weather Service said. “Ample moisture and instability (are) also present to support excessive rainfall rates, making flash flooding a concern in the Middle Mississippi and Ohio/Tennessee River Valleys,” Mullinax said.
WATCH:Heavy snow covers South Lake Tahoe
VIDEO:Snow, ice close COVID test sites in Seattle area
Meanwhile, an “enormous” winter storm will mark the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, as it produces accumulating and travel-halting snowfall in at least 18 states from the Southwest to the Midwest, AccuWeather said. “This will be a massive storm in terms of the area of coverage … 3-8 inches of snow in the central United States that includes Chicago and many other hubs,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
In New York City, New Year’s Eve will be a mild night with temperatures in the upper 40s for the ball drop, Weather Nation meteorologist Mace Michaels said. “Folks ringing in the New Year at Times Square will see a cloudy sky with a chance for showers,” he said. 
In the West, heavy snow will also be the main story in many areas. By Saturday morning, mountain ranges such as the Cascades, Sawtooth, Wasatch and both the central and southern Rockies can expect 1 to 2 feet of snow with totals exceeding 3 feet in the highest elevations of Utah and Colorado, the Weather Service said.
On Thursday, heavy snow halted travel on a large portion of the main east-west highway across Washington state and snarled traffic in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, metro areas.
Storms also drenched southern California on Thursday as downtown Los Angeles saw record Dec. 30 rainfall with 2.57 inches, breaking the previous daily record set in 1936, according to the National Weather Service.
Snow and ice also halted traffic Thursday on a section of Interstate 5 north of L.A., while mudslides, debris and rock falls cause localized problems on many roads. A campground near a state beach was flooded, leading firefighters and lifeguards to bring 22 people to safety. And some higher foothill and mountain communities saw tree and power line damage, leaving thousands of residents without power.
But wet weather in California may offer some hope for the drought-stricken state. State water officials announced Thursday that California’s mountain snow holds 160% of the water in usually does at this time of year. But officials said it’s still too early to know if there will be enough rain and snow to offset the drought.
Meanwhile, extreme winds in Colorado fueled devastating wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes. Snow was already helping firefighting efforts on Friday.
Intense cold will continue to make its presence felt across much of the north-central U.S., where wind chill readings will drop to as low as 50 degrees below zero in some areas, including Montana and North Dakota, over the next few days. “The dangerously cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes,” the National Weather Service in Montana warned.
And while the north-central U.S. shivers, ongoing warmth will lead to hundreds of record high temperatures across the southeastern U.S., the Weather Service said. Temperatures will soar into the spring-like 70s and 80s in the Southeast over the next few days.
Contributing: The Associated Press


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