WIN­TER AT ITS WORST

Air pres­sure drop causes se­vere wind gusts, sev­eral inches of snow, rain

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

Slabs of Platte River ice flooded onto prop­erty in Ne­braska as bliz­zard con­di­tions bar­reled east­ward from the Rocky Moun­tains. A his­toric bomb cy­clone with wind gusts of up to 100 mph along with heavy rain and snow af­fected more than 105 mil­lion peo­ple.

A his­tory-mak­ing “bomb cy­clone” on Thurs­day blasted com­mu­ni­ties near the Rock­ies with snow and drenched the Mid­west with rain, caus­ing one death, as fore­cast­ers pre­dicted flood­ing will spread through­out the re­gion over the week­end.

Thou­sands of peo­ple in Ne­braska and in at least one town in Iowa were forced to evac­u­ate to es­cape bliz­zard con­di­tions and flood­ing caused by the mas­sive, late-win­ter storm. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds de­clared a state of emer­gency. In Colorado, State Po­lice Cpl. Daniel Groves was hit and killed by a car as he was help­ing a mo­torist stranded on an in­ter­state.

“It is a tragic re­minder that peo­ple’s lives are at stake. The best place to be is at home and off the roads,” said Shoshana Lew, di­rec­tor of the Colorado De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

As the storm bar­reled east­ward from the Rock­ies, where it had trig­gered wide­spread power out­ages, it dumped record-set­ting rain­fall across parts of the Mid­west, in­clud­ing eastern South Dakota and north­west­ern Iowa. Air­lines can­celed hun­dreds of flights, and emer­gency crews worked to clear roads ob­scured by up to 4 feet of blind­ing snow.

More than 105 mil­lion peo­ple were af­fected by the storm sys­tem, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said Thurs­day.

The storm gained “bomb cy­clo­ge­n­e­sis” or “bom­bo­ge­n­e­sis” sta­tus af­ter its air pres­sure dropped pre­cip­i­tously within 24 hours, caus­ing wind gusts of nearly 100 mph while si­mul­ta­ne­ously drop­ping sev­eral inches of snow and rain, said Paul Hut­tner, chief me­te­o­rol­o­gist for Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio. He noted that this week’s bomb cy­clone was the lat­est of 10 se­vere storms to have pounded the Mid­west in the past six weeks — an av­er­age of one ev­ery four days.

Greg Carbin, chief of fore­cast op­er­a­tions for the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Weather Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter, called it “a very epic cy­clone” — one that “will go down in the his­tory books.”

Mr. Carbin said the cy­clone’s rapidly steep drop in ground-level air pres­sure was the most pro­nounced de­cline recorded since 1950. It oc­curred over Colorado, where wind gusts of 97 mph were clocked. Na­tional Guard troops there had to rely on spe­cial­ized ve­hi­cles with tank­like treads to res­cue stranded driv­ers, while in Ne­braska whiteout con­di­tions ham­pered evac­u­a­tions.

On Thurs­day, Wy­oming, North and South Dakota, and Min­nesota en­dured bliz­zard con­di­tions that in­cluded heavy rain in some places. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem closed all state of­fices, and the Red Cross opened shel­ters in Sioux Falls and Yank­ton in the eastern part of the state.

The sys­tem was mov­ing out of the cen­tral Plains on Thurs­day, but Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist Peter Rogers said flood­ing is likely to per­sist into the week­end in parts of South Dakota, Min­nesota and Iowa, with deeply frozen ground pre­vent­ing rain and snowmelt from soak­ing into the soil.

Mean­while, tor­nado watches were is­sued in Arkansas, Mis­sis­sippi and Ten­nessee. A tor­nado touched down in Ken­tucky, leav­ing some dam­age and one per­son in­jured, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

A tor­nado in New Mex­ico sheared roofs off build­ings in the small town of Dex­ter, about 200 miles south­west of Al­bu­querque. Au­thor­i­ties re­ported five peo­ple were hurt.

Near Lo­gan in north­east New Mex­ico, high winds knocked 25 freight cars off a rail­road bridge into a mostly dry riverbed. New Mex­ico State Po­lice re­ported no in­juries.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

A man clears snow drifts with a bull­dozer Thurs­day in Li­mon, Colorado. A sud­den drop in baro­met­ric pres­sure crip­pled the area with heavy snow and high winds.

John Hunt looks at the huge tree in his yard on Thurs­day, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, af­ter it fell dur­ing the “Bomb Cy­clone” that hit com­mu­ni­ties near the Rock­ies on Wed­nes­day. More than 105 mil­lion peo­ple were af­fected by the storm.

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