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Blizzard, wind, floods: Wild storm to batter central U.S. from Tuesday through Thursday

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Blizzard, wind, floods: Wild storm to batter central U.S. from Tuesday through Thursday


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Nebraska State Patrol put a tow tag on the wintry work of art, just for fun.
USA TODAY

A powerful mid-March storm will unleash a ferocious mix of snow, rain and wind across the central U.S. from Tuesday through Thursday.

The worst weather should be in the Plains, from Texas up to the Dakotas. “We expect a major blizzard to unfold with winds likely to approach hurricane force, heavy snow and massive drifts,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

On Wednesday, 1-2 feet of snow and howling winds will lash portions of Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, where blizzard warnings are in effect. The National Weather Service warned of “impossible travel conditions” and said that “you risk becoming stranded if you attempt to travel through these conditions.”

Denver will be right on the edge of the heaviest snow, with 4-7 inches likely in the city Wednesday as the blizzard rages at Denver International Airport, delays and cancellations will be likely, AccuWeather said.

Wild, destructive winds, with gusts of over 100-mph, are also forecast in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado, where widespread power outages are possible. Blowing dust will also reduce visibility to below one mile at times. The weather service office in Midland/Odessa, Texas, said that Wednesday could be “the windiest day in years.”

More: Tornadoes cause damage in south; no injuries reported

“High winds may end up stretching over 1 million square miles of the central states with this storm,” AccuWeather’s Sosnowski said.

In the Upper Midwest and around the Great Lakes, as much as 3 inches of drenching rain on top of mounds of already-fallen snow and sodden soil could lead to flooding.

“The greatest risk of flooding will tend to be in urban and poor drainage areas where piles of snow are blocking storm drains,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Fortunately, after a chance of severe thunderstorms Tuesday in Texas, the tornado threat in the South with this storm appears to be lower than in the past two big storms. 

The storm is unusually potent, and “will have an ‘eye-like’ feature similar to a hurricane,” according to weathermodels.com meteorologist Ryan Maue.

More: Check your weather forecast

The Weather Channel has named the storm Winter Storm Ulmer. No other private weather firm, nor the National Weather Service, uses that name. 

While the central United States endures the storm, both coasts will see mostly tranquil weather this week.

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