Moving In: U.S. Braces For Major Winter Storm

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(CNN) -- The first major winter storm of the season will strike parts of southwestern and northcentral United States between now and Wednesday, causing widespread power outages and making travel nearly impossible, forecasters said.

Storm and blizzard conditions will close highways in some areas, according to forecasters. Dangerous Arctic air could spill southward by midweek.

The Midwest and northern Plains will experience wind chills of 30 to 40 degrees below zero, and afternoon temperatures may be in the single digits, forecasters said.

The storm will intensify Monday as it slams California and heads northeast toward the Rockies, forecasters said Sunday.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for parts of central Rockies and the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, where up to 2 feet of snow and winds gusts of 50 mph could cause white outs, forecasters said.

Winter storm warnings are in effect for Sierra Range southward to San Bernardino mountains in southern California. The area will experience heavy snow Monday, with up to 3 feet possible in the higher elevations.

Southern California may get wind gusts of 60 mph on Monday, which could damage trees, power lines and communication towers. The area is expected to get heavy rains, triggering possibilities of mudslides and debris flows especially in burn areas.

The storm will intensify Tuesday as it moves northeast into the Midwest and upper Great Lakes.

Winter storm watches are in effect for the regions, with blizzard conditions possible in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the storm will move into southern Canada as the coldest air of the season spills across the central U.S., forecasters said.

Many temperatures will be below zero Thursday morning and daytime highs will struggle to make it out of the single digits across the upper Great Lakes, according to forecasters.

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