A major late-winter storm system is expected to affect much of the central United States starting on Wednesday, March 13, with some reports describing it as a “bomb cyclone.”
The Weather Channel has dubbed it “Winter Storm Ulmer,” and says it’s bringing dangerous conditions, high winds, and possible structural damage, such as power outages and downed trees.
A large swath of the U.S. was under a variety of warnings, advisories, and warnings. For the Dakotas, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, a blizzard warning was issued by the National Weather Service.
— Errld® (@errld) March 13, 2019
“Snow and gusty winds from Ulmer continue from the Colorado Rockies to western South Dakota and much of Wyoming. Snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour have been reported in eastern Colorado along with thundersnow,” according to the Weather Channel.
The website reported that conditions are starting to deteriorate, including blizzard conditions, in the High Plains.
Meanwhile, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Denver, Colorado, are slated to get hit with blizzard conditions soon, said the news outlet.
“Very high winds will also affect large portions of the Southern to Central High Plains where high wind warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service offices across these areas,” the NWS’ Weather Prediction Center wrote.
Sustained wind speeds of 30 mph to 40 mph with gusts of more than 60 mph are expected over most of New Mexico, western Texas, central and western Oklahoma. Parts of Kansas and southeastern Colorado will also see high winds.
— NWS Cheyenne (@NWSCheyenne) March 13, 2019
“This is potentially a dangerous wind event,” the NWS’ Midland office wrote. “This will be one of the strongest wind events in years for West Texas and Southeast New Mexico.”
According to the Weather Channel, the storm “is currently going through the process of bombogenesis, dropping from 994 mb Tuesday evening to 969 mb this afternoon. Bombogenesis is the process of rapid intensification that a winter storm system can go through. Bombogenesis is defined as a 24 mb drop in atmospheric pressure in 24 hours.”
Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean noted, “70 million people will potentially be affected by this storm system across the Plains states, bringing blizzard conditions, potential tornadoes and flash flooding.”
“This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters,” according to the National Ocean Service on its website. “The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called ‘bombogenesis,’ which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.”
Quick overview on the powerful winter storm headed for Colorado. Please cancel any travel plans Wednesday afternoon and evening especially east of I-25, and stay tuned for further updates! #COwx pic.twitter.com/sogNBlfxWs
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) March 12, 2019
According to Reuters, officials issued alerts to close schools and government buildings across Denver and nearby areas.
“They typically do get strong systems this time of the year in that part of the country, but this one is maybe a notch stronger than what you typically see,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard of the weather service told the news outlet.
Tracking website FlightAware said that hundreds of flights have been canceled.