“Some of the devastating flooding associated with this storm is due to the fact that heavy rain is falling on areas where there is snow on the ground”, said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The U.S. National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western Nebraska and parts of the Dakotas – where travel was almost brought to a halt due to the weather conditions.
The massive late-winter storm hit Colorado on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and wreaking havoc on roadways.
The historic low-pressure system, which affected more than 105 million people this week according to the National Weather Service, continued moving east.
The harsh weather also resulted in road accidents involving 100 vehicles on north Interstate 25.
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The flooding was the worst in almost a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls. Some flood watches and warnings were in place in the midwest as rain will spur accumulated snow to melt, he said.
The window-rattling storm brought blizzards, floods and a tornado across more than 25 states Wednesday, stretching from the northern Rocky Mountains to Texas and beyond. On Thursday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an emergency disaster proclamation and activated the state emergency operations center, and all or part of nine state parks were closed due to rising floodwaters. Winds also forced the evacuation of the local airport’s control tower and knocked out power in the Texas Panhandle and in eastern New Mexico. Extreme gusts of winds topping 100 miles per hour have slammed through areas of Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
“Photos are the important things”, she said.
Flooding remained a concern in the lower Missouri River region – which is a major source for the Mississippi River – with the weather service issuing warnings of high water along the river and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.
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Approximately 175,000 people have been left without power as the storm barrels through.
The Colorado State Patrol said one of its troopers, 52-year-old Corporal Daniel Groves, was killed northeast of Denver when a vehicle veered out of control and struck him as he was helping the victims of another auto accident. It was caused by a combination of the jet stream and normal conditions in the wind shadow of the Rockies.
CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller reported that the current storm pressure has “dropped 24 millibars in the last 18 hours” so the phenomenon definitely ticks all the criteria of a bomb cyclone. Tornadoes have so far been reported in New Mexico, Michigan and Kentucky, and have caused considerable damage to power lines and buildings, but no fatalities. Groves had gotten out of his patrol auto to check on another vehicle that had slid off the road, police said.
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