A “bomb cyclone” is approaching the central U.S. and is anticipated to bring blizzard conditions and strong winds to a significant portion of the nation.
Bomb cyclones occur when a rapidly forming storm results in a drop in climatic pressure of at least 24 millibars.
The National Weather Condition Service (NWS) has warned of a significant winter storm ranging from the Central Rockies through the Plains. Extreme blizzard conditions are anticipated across parts of Wyoming, western Nebraska, western South Dakota and northeast Colorado. Blizzard cautions were put into effect from northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming throughout western Nebraska and southwest South Dakota, according to NWS.
CNN reports 70 million people are in the course of the storm, with 45 million under a high wind hazard, 10 million under winter storm hazards and about 15 million dealing with a flood risk.
The storm, while more extreme in its overall effect than other weather events that usually in hit mid-March, is not too uncommon for this time of the year, states Matt Rinde, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather.
“These are early spring storms that truly do show their hand in something like this rather often,” he says.
Here’s what to anticipate from the bomb cyclone.
Winds are anticipated to blow between 50 and 70 miles per hour throughout the region, and heavy snow collecting to at least 6 inches is likely in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
430 AM L ooks as though we’re off to a windy start this early morning. Current wind gusts are mapped below, East slopes of the Franklin and San Andres Mts show the greatest gusts so far, 60 miles per hour gusts at Biggs AF. High Wind Caution for all of S. NM & far W. TX until midnight tonight pic.twitter.com/oxNQ6kD1ee
— NWS E l Paso (@NWSElPaso) March 13, 2019
In western Texas, New Mexico, parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, wind gusts are expected to go beyond 60 miles per hour. Portions of western Texas have already seen winds in between 70 and 80 miles per hour, with some even going beyond 80 mph, according to Rinde.
Strong winds are a hallmark of bomb cyclones, Rinde states, and he calls the scale of the one beginning to slam parts of the midwest “impressive.” Due to the fact that the storm varies throughout a wide swath of the U.S., the system’s effect will vary depending on where it hits.
“It’s a effective storm system that when it starts to come together, reinforces really rapidly,” Rinde states. “With extreme weather on the southern side, blizzard conditions on the northern side, the concern for flooding, and then, the winds that are outside of the thunderstorms. It’s an remarkable occasion from top to bottom.”
Widespread, heavy snows are anticipated between Wednesday and Thursday throughout the Central High Planes and Upper Mississippi Valley, according to NWS. Snow will blanket the areas where blizzard conditions are most likely, such as parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Freezing rain will likewise bring ice accumulation to affected areas.
Here’s an update on the storm moving into the area start late tonight continuing through Thursday. There are numerous dangers, including freezing rain and snow, with this system. Continue to stay up to date with the latest forecast. pic.twitter.com/a1h7WtgDOu
— NWS S ioux Falls (@NWSSiouxFalls) March 13, 2019
Nearly 1,000 flights coming in and going out of Denver International Airport have been cancelled as of Wednesday early morning, according to FlightAware. A blizzard caution is in result for Denver.
The calm before the storm. DEN team members are preparing for tomorrow’s snow storm. We are expecting some possible delays and cancellations, be sure to check your flight status with your airline company. #cowx #BombCyclone pic.twitter.com/OkyGIjOGYY
— Denver Int’l Airport (@DENAirport) March 12, 2019
Denver Public Schools cancelled classes due to the extreme weather condition, the school district said in a tweet.
Southwest Airlines cancelled 411 flights, while SkyWest Airlines, headquartered in Utah, had cancelled 259 flights by Wednesday morning. United Airlines likewise cancelled 133 flights.
Rinde advises that travelers in the region provide themselves as much extra time as they can and to avoid the storm, if possible.
“It’s much better to be out of it,” he states.