Winter and spring collided on Sunday like parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nebraska blasted with up to 4 feet of snow while Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri braced for heavy rains, high winds, floods, and possible tornadoes.
In Cheyenne, Wyoming, snow totals of 25.8 inches were recorded. This broke an earlier 2-day record since 1979 National weather service. And more could come – the weather service warned some areas could see up to 50 inches of snow and gusts of wind up to 60 miles per hour before the weather subsided on Monday.
“Historic and crippling winter storms will severely affect all of southeast Wyoming and the Panhandle in western Nebraska,” he reported. “Widespread blizzard conditions” made travel “dangerous or impossible”.
Over the weekend alone, more than 2,000 flights to and from Denver were canceled. Many highways and local roads were closed, including some where “no alternative route was recommended”.
In Colorado, some areas had nearly 30 inches of snow as early as Sunday noon. A foot of snow had fallen in Denver and more were on the way.
“Total snow accumulations of 12-24 inches for the Interstate 25 corridor and up to 3-4 feet in the northern foothills,” warned the National Weather Service. “Wind gusts of 30-40 miles per hour cause some blowing and drifting snow.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation reported a number of road closures, including portions of Interstate 70 that runs east to west through the state. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has classified the avalanche risk as high and warns of “very dangerous avalanche conditions”.
“On Saturday the storm rises only slowly, on Sunday the storm is noticeable,” tweeted the state transport ministry on Sunday afternoon. “The return trip from the mountains to #Denver will be a big challenge on Sunday. Drivers please plan to postpone the trip to Monday.”
Major roads southeast of a line that runs diagonally from the southwest corner of Wyoming to the northeast corner were closed on Sunday, including roads in and out of Cheyenne and Casper.
The Associated Press reported that 98 trucks were stranded outside of Cheyenne.
Parts of Texas were in recovery mode after being hit by tornadoes and severe storms on Friday and Saturday. In Amarillo, dozens of hikers were evacuated from a trail after two possible tornadoes in the area. Christopher Forbis, Randall County Sheriff, reported hailstones the size of baseball balls.
“Power lines and a cell tower are down,” said Chad Orton, emergency management director for the Amarillo area. “A house was damaged, but the family was in the basement … there were no injuries or deaths.”
On Sunday storms rolled through Texas and Oklahoma to the Mississippi. The biggest threats, according to AccuWeather, were heavy, soaked rain and noxious winds. Parts of Missouri were inundated with 7 inches of rain on Saturday, and more was forecast for Sunday.
The National Weather Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, warned that strong and severe storms were possible late Sunday.
“Harmful winds remain the main threat, but an isolated tornado cannot be completely ruled out,” said the weather service.
Heavy, gusty storms could shift east into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys on Monday, AccuWeather said.
Contributor: The Associated Press