First big snowstorm of the season: what to expect

A blast of frigid air and snow will affect wide swaths of the US this week, particularly in parts of the upper Midwest. Here are three key questions about the winter weather.

The northern and central parts of the United States are expected to get a blast of winter air this week along with the season's first major snowfall. The cold air is moving into the continental US from a storm that hit Alaska over the weekend.

Here's a Q-and-A about what to expect. 

Who is most affected? 

Dubbed "Winter Storm Astro" by The Weather Channel, it is expected to sweep through Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas and then drop as much as a foot of snow on Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, reports the Associated Press, which adds that thermometer readings will drop by as much as "40 degrees below average."

"We’re kind of getting locked in winter’s grip here," Troy Kleffman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Aberdeen, S.D., told AP.

In addition, high-wind warnings and wind advisories are "in effect for portions of the higher terrain of northern Utah and southern Idaho ... as well as portions of southeast Wyoming," according to the National Weather Service.

The most affected areas, The Weather Channel reports, will be portions of the upper Midwest, Northern Plains, and Northern Rockies. By the end of this week, it adds, "more than two-thirds of the U.S. will see below-average temperatures, and some areas could drop below zero during this cold snap." 

Some schools in Minnesota and South Dakota canceled classes Monday because of snow, AP reported.

Will it be cold all winter?

Not exactly. Those who endured the frigid temperatures of last winter will probably not see the same kind of harsh conditions again, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Compared with last winter, this one is supposed to be relatively average, many forecasters have said, although predictions have varied. 

Anything else I need to know? 

 There could be some travel delays. A Delta Air Lines travel advisory, for one, says snow forecasts in the upper Midwest could affect travel to and from Green Bay, Wis.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Rochester, Minn.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. Passengers are urged to regularly check the status of their flights. 

Driving is also not recommended in affected areas, particularly in the Northern Plains region, AP reports. 

 AP material was used in this report. 

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