Central US braces for extreme midweek storm

By Jason Samenow | Washington Post

An unusually strong late-winter storm is predicted to intensify
explosively in the western Plains on Tuesday into Wednesday,
unleashing flooding rains, severe storms, raging winds and blizzard
conditions in the middle of the nation.

The zone from Texas north through the Dakotas and Minnesota is
expected be hit hardest by the powerhouse storm. It is likely to
meet the criteria of a “bomb cyclone,” its pressure dropping 24
millibars in 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. The
lower the pressure and the faster it falls, the more intense the
storm.

Roaring, potentially damaging winds will affect an enormous
area. High-wind watches and warnings have been posted from
southeastern New Mexico through Nebraska. Gusts are expected to
reach 60 mph late Tuesday into Wednesday, and up to 80 mph to 100
mph in the high terrain, in southwest Texas and southeast New
Mexico.

“This is a potentially dangerous wind event,” warned the
National Weather Service office in Midland, Texas.

Models project the storm’s pressure to drop to between 970
millibars and 975 millibars as it barrels across Kansas,
challenging the lowest pressure recorded in parts of the state.

“Models remain consistent developing one of the more dynamic
systems I have seen in quite some time for Kansas” midweek, wrote
a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Wichita.

The storm was born from a disturbance over the Pacific Ocean
that came ashore in northern Mexico on Monday night. It is now
expected to ride along the U.S.-Mexico border, ejecting from the
desert southwest into eastern Colorado and western Kansas into
Wednesday.

“As powerful Plains storm reaches maximum intensity or lowest
pressure, it will have an ‘eye like’ feature similar to a
hurricane,” tweeted Ryan Maue, meteorologist for
Weathermodels.com.

Indeed, the predicted minimum pressure of this storm, around 970
millibars to 975 millibars, is equivalent to a Category 2
hurricane.

The storm’s massive wind field is but one of its many hazards.
The storm will also generate heavy precipitation – both rain and
snow – and severe thunderstorms depending on location.

Snow threat

Blizzard conditions are expected develop on the storm’s cold
side in the western and northern Plains on Wednesday into Thursday,
including northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska,
the Dakotas and northwest Minnesota. Blizzard and winter storm
warnings and winter storm watches cover much of this territory.

Conditions are expected to be most severe in the blizzard
warning zone, which covers northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming,
western Nebraska and southern South Dakota. Here, 10 inches to 20
inches of snow and wind gusts over 60 mph are possible, creating
whiteout conditions.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the Weather
Service warned. It also cautioned that the high winds could lead to
power outages.

Flood threat

In the storm’s warm sector, a generalized heavy rainfall
capable of causing flooding is a threat from Kansas to western
Wisconsin late Tuesday night through Wednesday. One inch to three
inches of rain is predicted to fall on top of saturated soils.

In addition, from Nebraska to Minnesota and Wisconsin, the
combination of heavy rain and thawing snow and ice could exacerbate
flooding and lead to ice jams on area rivers.

Severe storm threat

Severe thunderstorms, capable of producing damaging winds and
hail, are a concern along the storm’s southern flank from Texas
to the mid-South. The threat will progress from west to east late
Tuesday into Thursday.

From eastern New Mexico to western Oklahoma, there is an
elevated risk of a severe storm Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday
night. “Thunderstorms should produce large hail, damaging wind
and a few tornadoes [Tuesday afternoon] over parts of southeastern
New Mexico and far west Texas,” the Weather Service Storm
Prediction Center wrote. “The threat will transition mostly to
severe wind as a complex of storms crosses west-central Texas
[Tuesday night].”

On Wednesday into Thursday, the risk of severe storms shifts
more to the mid-South from eastern Texas through Arkansas on
Wednesday and from Mississippi and Alabama into central Tennessee
on Thursday. Flash flooding could become an issue in storms that
hit northern Mississippi and Tennessee, which saw record rainfall
in February.

After Wednesday

Although the storm peaks in intensity Wednesday, it is forecast
to produce a swath of strong winds in the Upper Midwest and Great
Lakes on Wednesday night into Thursday as it cuts through southeast
Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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As noted, a few severe storms could sweep across the South on
Thursday, while on the north side rain showers will scatter across
the eastern Great Lakes, changing to snow over the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan and northern Minnesota.

By Friday, it will weaken as it barrels into northeastern
Canada, dragging a cold front across the eastern United States with
showers along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
Central US braces for extreme midweek storm