'Potentially historic' winter storm to slam central US

A driver shovels out his car following a winter snow storm in Somerville, Massachusetts, on March 4, 2019.
A driver shovels out his car following a winter snow storm in Somerville, Massachusetts, on March 4, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Blizzards and windstorms will punish the United States Plains and Midwest on Wednesday (April 10) as a powerful late winter storm threatens more flooding in areas like South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and farms along the Missouri River.

High spring temperatures will give way to heavy snow, gale-force winds and life-threatening conditions across a swathe of the central US running from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The Pacific-born storm has already sparked flood evacuations in Oregon. Rain and then blowing snow are expected to hit the Rockies on Wednesday, before moving east into the plains, the NWS Forecast Office in Boulder, Colorado, reported.

Some areas of western Minnesota and south-east South Dakota are expected to get up to 76cm of wet, heavy snow, the NWS said.

"A potentially historic winter storm will bring severe impacts Wednesday night into early Friday," the weather service's Twin Cities office tweeted.

The same central US area was hit by a "bomb cyclone" less than a month ago that brought deadly flooding and blizzards that closed roads and paralysed transportation.

A whiplash in temperatures from a high of 27 deg C in some cities on Tuesday to frigid conditions on Wednesday is expected to supercharge the storm with cold air.

 
 

That was the case on March 13 when a sudden drop in air pressure turned a potent storm into a so-called bomb cyclone.

Areas like the Pine Ridge Reservation and north-west Missouri's Holt County are still recovering from last month's flooding which caused billions of dollars in damage.

Flooding is not expected to be as bad in Nebraska this time, as the ground has thawed and can absorb more water.

Still, the coming storm is expected to exacerbate flooding along the Missouri River in areas where dozens of levees were breached in March, exposing communities to future surges. The river is not expected to crest in areas of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri until between three and five days after the storm.