Relentless spring snowstorm continues pummeling central US
For live updates of the major spring storm, click here.
Heavy snow and high winds continue to snarl travel in the Rockies and north-central United States as a major storm wallops the region through Thursday.
The storm blasted parts of the West with heavy rain, heavy mountain snow, power-cutting winds and blowing dust Tuesday into Wednesday night. The early stages of the storm knocked out power to 50,000 in the Los Angeles area and kicked up dramatic dust storms in Nevada.
Thunder and lightning accompanied the intense snowfall and an icy mix in some areas on Wednesday, Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
As the storm's reach expands across the country, a total of 200 million people in the United States will feel the impacts of this intense weather system that may be second only in strength to the "bomb cyclone" that hit much of the same area about a month ago.
The National Weather Service said that this is a "historic springtime snowstorm."
Even the Northeast will eventually receive some rain, thunderstorms and wind from the storm to end the week.
Download the free AccuWeather app to keep tabs on impacts in your area minute by minute.
Travel-snarling blizzard pounding North Central states
A swath of heavy snow has developed and will continue to pummel the northern Plains, a portion of the central Plains and Upper Midwest into Thursday night as cold air pours into the northwestern flank of the storm.
Blizzard conditions are anticipated, even in areas where the snow is wet. Thunder and lightning can occur, including in icy mix areas to the southeast of heavy snowfall into Thursday night.
Snow will extend from northeastern Colorado and northwestern Kansas through much of Nebraska, South Dakota, southeastern North Dakota, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan.
Temperatures in the 60s, 70s and 80s from early this week were quickly replaced with temperatures in the 20s, 30s and 40s.
Denver hit 78 F on Tuesday, but dropped into the teens on Wednesday night as snow continued to fall. Gusty winds will persist in the Denver area on Thursday, now that the snow has ended.
"In the swath of heaviest snow, disruptions to travel, including flight cancellations and road closures, will continue to mount," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
While Minneapolis may escape the brunt of the heavy snowfall to the northwest, the Twin City metro area can expect enough snow, ice, rain and wind to cause substantial disruptions to travel and daily activities.
A large swath of a foot of snow or more is forecast from the northern Rockies to the Upper Midwest. Within this zone, from 1-2 feet of snow are forecast with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 30 inches, most likely in South Dakota, western Nebraska and southwestern Minnesota.
Some spots in South Dakota had already received 18 inches of snow.
The snow will be heavy and wet in nature over portions of the Plains and Upper Midwest, which will make it difficult to remove from driveways and sidewalks.
Strong winds will also cause extensive drifting of the snow, especially over the High Plains of South Dakota and Nebraska, where the snow will tend to be more dry and powdery in nature.
During Thursday night, the snow and wintry mix will pivot eastward across parts of the central Plains.
In some areas of the North Central states, snow and wind may persist into Friday afternoon.
Motorists traveling along stretches of interstates 25, 29, 35, 70, 80, 90 and 94 should be mindful of the fact that snowy, slippery and difficult travel can impact a portion of their journey. Only travel is absolutely necessary. Portions of these interstates have already closed.
Along portions of I-90 and other major highways, motorists will be at risk for getting stranded in this storm as snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour or more, combined with high winds can overwhelm plowing operations.
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Strong winds threaten damage, hazardous travel
The broad nature of the storm is causing winds to be stirred across a majority of the Central states, with gusts frequenting 40-60 mph.
On Wednesday, strong winds created blowing dust across the southern Plains. Gusts topped 100 mph in parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
On Thursday, strong winds will continue with the storm over parts of the High Plains and will also extend farther to the east over parts of the Midwest.
Such winds can break tree limbs, down power lines, cause property damage, add turbulence to flights and flip over high-profile vehicles.
Lakeshore flooding will be possible across the Great Lakes.
The winds will create a high risk of wildfires where dry weather prevails in the southern Plains. Even in areas where the topsoil is moist, dry, dead brush left over from the winter can easily ignite. Any fire that starts can spread at an alarming rate in the howling winds.
On Wednesday, a wildfire in Floyd, New Mexico, injured two people, include a firefighter, and destroyed four homes.
In addition to the gusty winds, locally severe thunderstorms can create their own damage across a portion of the Mississippi Valley on Thursday.
This storm will eventually impact the Northeast at late week. However, since the storm will be weakening and lifting into Canada by then, less intense rain, wind and non-severe thunderstorms are forecast.
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