Intense windstorm threatens damage across 'over 1 million square miles' of the US
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 15, 2019, 2:52:05 AM EDT
The same areas of the central United States that dealt with a blizzard and severe weather from a powerful storm will also be hit with damaging winds into Thursday evening.
The storm experienced rapid intensification, known as bombogenesis, and created a vast area of high winds.
"There will be a heightened risk for power outages, property damage and blowing dust and other debris," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
"High winds may end up stretching over 1 million square miles of the Central states with this storm," Sosnowski said.
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The area of strong winds will be so broad that even communities that were spared the storm's blizzard and severe weather risk can face damage and a loss of power.
Residents can help minimize property damage during the event by stowing away trash bins, planters, trampolines and other small outdoor items in a garage or shed. Larger items such as outdoor furniture should be properly secured.
Download the free AccuWeather app to receive the latest wind advisories for your area and see exactly how windy it will get.
After battering much of New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas on Wednesday, the high winds will continue in much of this same area but also expand into a large part of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and the Great Lakes.
"We expect high winds to persist over much of the Plains," Sosnowski said.
While the storm will be past its peak intensity by this time, gusts up to 50 mph are still possible across a portion of the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes.
Lingering windy conditions across the northern Plains on this day will prolong poor visibility conditions due to blowing and drifting snow.
People are advised to not stand or park under trees or power lines, which can come down with little notice.
"High-profile vehicles, such as trucks, buses and RVs, can be flipped over by strong westerly crosswinds on open stretches of highway," Sosnowski said.
Gusty winds will require motorists to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
The winds will further reduce visibility in areas where snow is on the ground, leading to an all-out ground blizzard from Colorado to the Dakotas even in the wake of the storm.
Blowing dust may pose hazards to drivers across the southern Plains, depending on how much rain falls from the storm and if the ground can dry out fast enough.
"However, high winds and the risk of power outages, falling trees and property damage will also extend farther to the east across the Midwest," Sosnowski said.
Severe aircraft turbulence is expected across the region. Airline passengers are reminded to keep their seat belts fastened throughout their flight in case of sudden turbulent conditions.
This past weekend, dozens were left injured on a Turkish Airlines flight inbound to New York after the aircraft encountered severe turbulence.
Colder but quieter weather will move into the Central states in the wake of the storm from Friday into the weekend.
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