Blizzard conditions and hurricane-strength winds are part of the storm system, forecasters said, and numerous watches and warnings have been issued across several states. Experts said about 4 million Americans are under blizzard warnings.
Meteorologists said the storm will produce strong winds for portions of Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and California Wednesday — and blizzard conditions are forecast for Colorado, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned this week the storm could produce a bomb cyclone, classified as a condition in which atmospheric pressure drops 24 millibars in a 24-hour period. Some of the areas facing snow Wednesday were just hit by a bomb cyclone last month, which created major floods and killed several people.
“This isn’t going to be a one-and-done thing,” National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Dergan said. “We’re going to have to deal with snow melt and water filtering through the Missouri River system for the next month or so.”
The National Weather Service said a “potentially historic winter storm” could hit Minnesota later Wednesday and bring heavy rain and snow with wind gusts of 50 mph. A foot of snow could fall on Minneapolis by the time the storm moves out.
“The snow will expand into the upper Great Lakes overnight Wednesday,” the National Weather Service said. “As the storm moves out of the Plains, showers and thunderstorms will develop along and ahead of the associated front overnight Thursday into Friday over parts of the Ohio Valley into parts of the Tennessee/Lower Mississippi valleys.”
Forecasters said the storm will spread through the central and northern Plains and upper Midwest, producing up to 2 feet of snow by Thursday evening.