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Bomb cyclone storm hammering central US, disrupting travel

AP  |  Colorado 

Blizzard warnings were posted from to on Wednesday and wildfires were a concern in New Mexico, and as the second so-called "bomb cyclone" storm in less than a month hit the central US, raising the prospect of renewed flooding in the already drenched

Heavy snow disrupted ground and Wednesday. Roads became impassable and visibility was down to a few feet in northeastern due to heavy snowfall. About half of the daily flights at International Airport were cancelled.

Up to 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow was expected to fall in parts of and southwestern Minnesota, the said. Winds in excess of 50 mph (80.46 kph) also were expected, creating life-threatening conditions.

"We're calling it historic because of the widespread heavy snow. We will set some records," said Mike Connelly, a in Aberdeen,

Transportation officials closed Interstate 29 from east to the border, as well as a 270-mile (434-kilometer) section of Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Mitchell, South Dakota.

Numerous traffic crashes were reported in northeastern South Dakota, and the storm knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in

Officials in closed a 150-mile (241-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 76 from just northeast of to the border, and Gov. activated the in case troops are needed to rescue stranded motorists.

Multiple crashes in along a snowy stretch of Interstate 35 prompted officials to close about 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the highway about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of

In Nebraska, the State Patrol was sending additional troopers into the state's panhandle, and officials closed Interstate 80 in that region.

"This storm is going to be dangerous," Patrol Maj. Russ Stanczyk said. An unusual but not rare weather phenomenon known as "thunder snow" snow accompanied by thunder and lightning was reported in

"It's essentially a thunderstorm, but it's cold enough for snow," Connelly said.

South Dakota Gov. closed state government offices in 52 counties. Numerous schools around the state closed, along with several offices in and eastern Gov. extended five weather-related orders until May 15 to help communities gain fast access to the state's emergency resources. Gov. said "the stands ready" to rescue any stranded motorists.

The weather service posted an ice storm warning into Friday morning for a portion of southern Minnesota, saying up to three-fourths of an inch of ice could accumulate on power lines, leading to outages.

To the west, the looming spring blizzard in the Rockies impacted flights, school classes, government functions and even baseball.

League Baseball's Rockies postponed an afternoon game against the until August. Many school districts in Colorado and canceled or shortened classes. Local governments, including in and Cheyenne, Wyoming, and state government in the Denver area closed offices early.

Strong winds associated with the weather system were creating dangerous wildfire and in New Mexico, and The weather service issued a high wind warning for the and panhandles.

Winds in excess of 50 mph (80.46 kph) were combining with low humidity and an unstable atmosphere to create critical fire conditions in the three states. Forecasters in said the winds also would make travel difficult on north-south oriented roads such as Interstate 25. In southern New Mexico, the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range closed Wednesday because of the high winds.

The storm technically met the scientific definition of what's commonly known as a "bomb cyclone," said David Roth, a forecaster at the in

The weather phenomenon with a complex scientific definition essentially entails a rapid drop in air pressure and a storm strengthening explosively. What is more important than the term is the storm's impacts, which are likely to be similar to last month's storm , Roth said.

That blast dropped heavy snow and led to massive flooding in the that caused billions of dollars in damage in Nebraska, Missouri, and South Dakota.

"Hopefully this time it will be a slow snowmelt," Roth said. Forecasters said this week's storm will swell rivers again, though likely not to the levels seen last month due to the absence of a wet snowpack on frozen ground this time around.

Even moderate rises in the River will push more water into drenched in southwestern Iowa, said. Last month's flooding swamped 455 houses and thousands of acres of farmland in his region.

"The problem is that we're not getting any time for the water to recede and things to dry out, so the levees can't be fixed; houses can't be fixed; crops can't be planted," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 11:20 IST