Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Late-winter storm hits Midwest after paralyzing Colorado

Late-winter storm hits Midwest after paralyzing Colorado

Blizzard warnings have been issued in all four states and the National Weather Service has warned drivers of "impossible travel conditions".

The system was undergoing cyclogenesis on Wednesday over southern Colorado satellite images from the NWS showed. "High speed in poor driving conditions is being investigated as a possible causal factor".

One of the stranded drivers was Bria McKenzie, 22, who with her mother, brother and sister, was stuck in her vehicle for more than two hours on a hilly road in Colorado Springs. The storm was expected to drop up to 22 inches (56 centimeters) of snow in Wyoming, 14 inches (36 centimeters) in South Dakota and a foot (31 centimeters) in Colorado.

Warnings extended to North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, where the storm was expected to hit Thursday.

About 50 National Guard soldiers and airmen used specialized vehicles with tank-like treads to rescue 75 people stranded in their cars during the storm. "On the southern, warmer side of the storm, there is the threat for more severe weather across the lower Mississippi Valley".

Denver International Airport was hit the hardest.

Hundreds of thousands lost power Tuesday and Wednesday as the storm remarkably continues to strengthen.

"We've got a lot of water, and it's got to find a way to get out of here", said Tracy West, mayor of Lennox, South Dakota.

In New Mexico, heavy winds contributed to the derailment of a 26-car train near the village of Logan, according to a tweet from the state police.

Winds could - and have - been clocked at 90 miles per hour. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Through early Thursday, residents of Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma can expect winds of between 30 and 50 miles per hour, with gusts in some areas reaching 65 miles per hour, according to forecasts. "DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO DRIVE IN THIS STORM!" the weather service's office in Boulder said on Twitter. The National Weather Service warned of heavy rains, severe thunderstorms, flooding, heavy snows, blizzard conditions, and heavy winds across the central USA over the next two days.

About 1,000 flights into Denver have been canceled as a winter storm hits the western US, with blizzard conditions expected to engulf parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The NWS in Boulder, Colorado, said that travel is "not recommended" and would be nearly impossible at times due to high winds and whiteout conditions.

At 8:30 a.m. officials with the county announced both Dillon Dam and Swan Mountain roads are closed due to adverse weather conditions. The storm is expected to wind down by Thursday evening, though residents should still take caution traveling in case of remaining wind, snow and floods. Ice jams are a major concern along rivers in this region.

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