A winter storm described as a “historic” amount of snow continues to batter the Rocky Mountain and northern states of the Great Plains causing road and airport closures and affecting some 30 million people in the United States.
In Colorado and Wyoming, the two states bearing the brunt of the snowfall, over 9 inches of accumulated snow is expected by the end of the day in urban areas and double that in areas near the mountains, with the possibility of an all-time high of over 25 inches in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
As time goes by the low pressure system from the west will continue to collide east of the Rocky Mountains with the high pressure system and moist air from the south (Gulf of Mexico), so the storm “will intensify and expand,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a statement today.
Therefore, while in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota “heavy snow will accumulate and winds will increase,” in eastern Colorado and Nebraska, and in sectors of Kansas and Oklahoma, among other areas, thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes could be seen, two of which have already occurred this Saturday in Texas.
Colorado and Wyoming closed Interstate 25 (which runs north-south through those states), as well as Interstate 70 (Colorado) and Interstates 80 and 90 (Wyoming), which run east-west.
During the day there will be temporary reopenings in certain sectors of the highway to avoid stranding motorists on those routes.
At the same time, Denver International Airport, the largest air terminal in the region, cancelled some 2,000 flights, not because of difficulties in continuing operations (the airport is prepared to respond to these storms), but because of difficulties for personnel (including pilots) to reach the site.
When the “dangerous” storm reaches its greatest extent this afternoon it will encompass the area between the Mississippi River to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west, putting “lives and property” at risk, according to Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather’s Chief Meteorologist.
Although no fatalities have been reported so far, the storm is expected to cause huge livestock death losses in Wyoming, and destroy entire crops in eastern Colorado and parts of Kansas and Nebraska.
“The storm took a little while to arrive yesterday, Saturday, and although it arrived a little later than expected, it is much more intense today and is going to be with us longer than we originally expected,” said Shoshana Lew, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in prepared remarks sent to EFE.
“We ask motorists not to be careless: today’s conditions are worse than yesterday’s,” including poor visibility, icy roads and gummy snow accumulation, she added.
According to PowerOutage.us, due to downed trees and other situations created by the snow, some 33,000 people in northern Colorado and another 2,250 people in southern Wyoming are without power this Sunday.
Nevertheless, apparently the worst is yet to come.
“Things will get worse tonight as it gets dark, cold, and a lot more snow sticks to the roads,” said John Lorme, CDOT’s director of operations.