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Bomb cyclone hits central US with snow, winds

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Nebraska State Patrol put a tow tag on the wintry work of art, just for fun.
USA TODAY

A powerful “bomb cyclone” is unleashing a ferocious mix of snow, rain and wind across the central United States on Wednesday.

Over 1,200 flights have already been cancelled due to the storm, mostly in Denver, and more than 100,000 customers are without power in Texas. Wind gusts of more than 75 mph were reported Wednesday morning at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

“While not a tropical system, winds will rival what’s seen in a Category 1 hurricane,” said weathermodels.com meteorologist Ryan Maue. 

Bomb cyclones – sometimes called winter hurricanes  – are storms that strengthen unusually fast. 

The worst weather is forecast for the Plains, from Texas up to the Dakotas. “We expect a major blizzard to unfold with winds likely to approach hurricane force, heavy snow and massive drifts,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

On Wednesday, 1-2 feet of snow and howling winds will lash portions of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska, where blizzard warnings are in effect. The National Weather Service warned of “impossible travel conditions.”

“You risk becoming stranded if you attempt to travel through these conditions,” it said.

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts issued an emergency declaration as the storm approached.

More: Blizzard warning: Airlines cancel 1,200 flights, waive fees

A blizzard warning was issued for Denver, where 4-8 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 44 mph are forecast for Wednesday. At Denver International Airport, hundreds of flights have been canceled. 

Wild, destructive winds, gusting more than 100 mph, are forecast in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado, where widespread power outages are possible. Blowing dust will reduce visibility to less than a mile at times. The weather service office in Midland/Odessa, Texas, said Wednesday could be “the windiest day in years.”

More: Tornadoes cause damage in south; no injuries reported

“High winds may end up stretching over 1 million square miles of the central states with this storm,” AccuWeather’s Sosnowski said.

In the Upper Midwest and around the Great Lakes, as much as 3 inches of drenching rain on top of mounds of already-fallen snow and sodden soil could lead to flooding.

“The greatest risk of flooding will tend to be in urban and poor drainage areas where piles of snow are blocking storm drains,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Many rivers in the Upper Midwest were expected to reach flood stage over the next several days, the weather service said. 

More: What is a bomb cyclone? Winter hurricane explained.

After 2 tornadoes were reported in New Mexico and Texas Tuesday, more severe weather is forecast for Wednesday in the South. Portions of Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee are at greatest risk for tornadoes and large hail, the Storm Prediction Center said.

The storm is unusually potent and “will have an ‘eye-like’ feature similar to a hurricane,” according to Maue.

More: Check your weather forecast

The Weather Channel named the winter storm Ulmer. No other private weather firm, nor the National Weather Service, uses that name. 

While the central USA endures the storm, both coasts will see mostly tranquil weather this week.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

 

 

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