The state of emergency was announced by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Wednesday, alerting citizens of imminent danger.

What is shaping up to be the worst storm in decades just before the Christmas holiday, it is anticipated to have an impact on millions of people in the United States.

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The state of emergency was declared by Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday as Kentucky prepared for an arctic blast that is forecast to arrive Thursday night. On Friday, the forecast predicts for snowfall, dwindling temperatures, and wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour. On Friday and into Saturday, wind chills are predicted to be between 10 and 25 below zero. It won’t likely warm up until Monday or Tuesday.

“This is going to be really dangerous. This is really, really cold. You need to stay inside and hunker down, hopefully with your family, for the Christmas holiday from Thursday definitely through Saturday,” the Governor said at a news briefing.

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Beshear warned that wind gusts are predicted to reach 40 to 50 miles per hour and that a flash freeze might occur Thursday night due to the sudden drop in temperature. He advised everyone taking a holiday trip to make plans to be to their destination by midday on Thursday.

“After midday Thursday, do not travel unless you have to. Unless you are an essential employee, traveling will be very difficult on Friday and certainly late Thursday night as well. One of our biggest concerns is a ‘flash freeze.’ That’s when temperatures drop very, very, very quickly and any rain or snow that is there turns to ice. And with our temperatures, it will be very difficult to thaw that ice,” Beshear said.

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The weather service predicted between 2 and 4 inches of snow east of Louisville and between 1 and 2 inches in Jefferson County for the morning of Wednesday, but major accumulations were not projected. Beshear emphasised that the forecasts could change, and Kentucky Secretary of Transportation Jim Gray warned that the snow and strong winds could make travel hazardous in the days leading up to one of the biggest travel weekends of the year—the weekend of Christmas.

Many areas of the country are currently under wind chill alerts, winter storm watches, advisories, and warnings due to the possibility for life-threatening cold, chaotic travel, and potential power disruptions.