Residents of Northern states in the U.S. are starting to hunker down as heavy snow and high winds are predicted to create whiteout conditions on Wednesday.

A foot of snow is likely from South Dakota through Michigan, but the Upper Midwest will bear the brunt of the conditions, the National Weather predicts.

A snowfall rate of up to 2" an hour and wind speeds of 50 mph could cause blizzards across Wyoming, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Accounting for wind chill, temperatures could drop as low as 30 degrees below zero, making travel treacherous, if not life-threatening.

Flight cancellations began to rise on Wednesday morning. As of 8 a.m. ET, more than 1,600 flights had been canceled, with Minneapolis International Airport scrapping roughly half of its arrivals.

Schools across Minnesota announced closures as the state's governor said on Twitter he would direct the state's National Guard, transportation department and state patrol to be ready to respond.

In total, nearly half the country is predicted to experience some form of notable weather on Wednesday, the NWS reported in its daily bulletin.

In California, a trailing cold front could send wind speeds as high as 50-60 mph, threatening power lines. As of Wednesday morning, more than 119,000 homes and businesses were without power in parts of the state's Central Valley.

Snow also began to fall across Western mountain ranges on Wednesday, with as much as 2 feet expected in higher regions, the NWS said. That means lower elevations across California could see a winter mix, hail or heavy rain, a cause of anxiety for a state that's seen several rounds of deadly floods.

And Thursday may not bring relief: A second storm will approach the West Coast on Thursday, bringing threats of renewed rain and snow, the NWS says.

As temperatures in Southern California might not rise above 50 degrees, parts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic are expected to see highs in the 70s and 80s on Wednesday.

"The forecast temperature gradient from the Mid-Atlantic into New England Thursday is worth noting, as highs in the 80s in Virginia drop to the single digits in northern Maine," the NWS said in its bulletin.

But that warm front isn't likely to stick around for much longer. By Thursday, the same storm that's blanketing the plains will begin to slip into upstate New York and central New England, sending colder temperatures further south by the weekend. [Copyright 2023 NPR]