A massive storm unleashed several tornadoes in western Kentucky on Thursday, damaging homes and businesses and blocking roads near Paducah.
The same “bomb cyclone” storm that pasted Colorado on Wednesday brought more blizzard conditions from the northern Plains to Minnesota on Thursday. It also spread the threat of severe thunderstorms and damaging winds along a corridor from western Ohio to northern Alabama.
Tornado watches and warnings were in effect across portions of Indiana and Ohio.
Two people were killed because of the storm Wednesday: a state patrol trooper in Colorado and a utility worker in Texas.
The mid-March storm will also bring the first hints of spring temperatures in many areas as it moves east.
Blizzard warnings remained in effect Thursday over northeast Colorado, eastern Wyoming, most of Nebraska, South Dakota, eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.
“Travel will remain difficult and life-threatening across these areas,” the weather service warned.
Flooding was also a serious concern in a few states, with the worst conditions in Iowa and Nebraska. In eastern Nebraska, residents in several counties were evacuated because of rising floodwaters.
Parts of Colorado and Wyoming remained paralyzed Thursday because of the blizzard.
The storm, which blasted a mix of snow, rain and wind across the central United States on Wednesday, was blamed for a crash that killed a Colorado State Patrol trooper.
In Colorado on Wednesday, National Guard troops used specialized vehicles to rescue drivers stranded by the wintry fury.
More than 1,300 flights were canceled at Denver International Airport, where a wind gust of 80 mph was reported Wednesday morning. All runways at the airport were closed around early afternoon.
About 3,000 flights were canceled across the nation, according to flightaware.com.
Late Wednesday, about 111,000 Denver-area residents were without power, down from 246,000 in the afternoon. Interstates were shut down, most schools were closed and many businesses declared a snow day. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency in the evening, activating the state national guard for search and rescue missions.
Earlier in the day, Cpl. Daniel Groves was killed on Interstate 76 after a driver lost control of his vehicle in the storm and hit him. Groves had been helping another driver who slid off the highway, the state patrol said.
In addition to road closures in Colorado and Wyoming, the Nebraska State Patrol closed Interstate 80 from the Wyoming border east to North Platte, as well as all state highways in the Nebraska Panhandle. Officials ordered flood evacuations in areas including Cedar Rapids and Belgrade, The Omaha World-Herald reported, as well as low-lying parts of Randolph and Pierce.
“This is a very epic cyclone,” said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center. “We’re looking at something that will go down in the history books.”
Whether you call it a “snow hurricane” or “bombogenesis,” this storm packs a punch worthy of its namesake.
In Denver, by noon, the fierce storm was rattling signs and rocking cars. Roads become treacherous, and two-wheel-drive sedans struggled to climb up anything resembling a hill, their tires spinning fruitlessly.
“They predicted a blizzard, and that’s what we’re having,” said server Rindi Gray, 48, as she took a break from shoveling the sidewalk outside My Brother’s Bar, which boasts some of Denver’s best cheeseburgers but expected to close early because of the storm.
Across the city, workers struggled in vain to keep sidewalks and walkways clear. Wrapped in a plastic poncho flapping loudly in the wind, Matt Krueger, 36, pushed snow off a sidewalk while more blew in right behind him.
“They told us to clear a path, but it’s just gonna get snowed over again,” he sighed.
Bomb cyclones – sometimes called winter hurricanes – are storms that strengthen unusually fast.
“You risk becoming stranded if you attempt to travel through these conditions,” it said.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Stanglin and Rice reported from McLean, Virginia; Trevor Hughes from Denver.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/14/blizzard-powerful-storm-hit-central-u-s-heavy-snow-winds/3159959002/