We're only five days away from Christmas Day and now is the time panic starts to set in. Trying to buy those last-minute Christmas gifts, wrap presents, pre-make Christmas Eve and Day foods for parties and getting your work done before the long weekend.

However, there's a gigantic and potentially historic winter storm that will pummel much of the country. It's going to heavily impact the Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast; along with delivering crazy low cold and wind chills to regions who are not used to it; such as Texas, Tennessee and even Georgia.

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Western New York will be in the path of the storm. Thursday looks like a washout, with snow and mixed showers switching to all rain by the afternoon. The rain could be heavy on Thursday evening, but the winds will be manageable.

Friday, however, is the bullseye day that so many are honing in on. There's a Winter Storm Watch and High Wind Watch for all of Western New York, which starts Thursday night and goes until Monday morning. That High Wind Watch will most certainly become a High Wind Warning before the event.

According to forecasts, the rain on Friday morning will quickly switch to snow and a flash freeze could happen. Heavy snow Friday evening with wind gusts 65 mph. Traveling on Friday afternoon and during the overnight into Saturday could be impossible, due to the snow and the whiteout conditions from the wind.

Christmas Eve looks a little better, although the winds will still be very strong, especially in the first part of the day. Lake effect snow will set up and drop even more snow on Western New York.

Lake effect snow will sink south of Buffalo late on Christmas Eve night and for Christmas Day, but the wind gusts will be blustering and the cold will be noticeable.

Prepare for power outages. Simply getting to holiday parties is a big problem, especially on the 23rd and into the 24th, but power outages is a huge worry for everyone in Western New York.

If you need to go to the grocery store, Tops or Wegmans, do it on Wednesday or Thursday. DO NOT WAIT until Friday or Saturday to get food or Christmas supplies. The weather may be undrivable for those days, especially Friday.

Christmas plans will be impacted. Patrick Hammer of WGRZ wants residents to take this storm seriously.

Make preparations and stay safe.

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