Quantcast

Deadly Bomb Cyclone Brings ‘Historic’ Snowfall to Central U.S.

Climate
Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Mississippi River on April 11. The week started with two sunny spring days and has since turned to blizzard conditions. Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

One person died and tens of thousands lost power as the second "bomb cyclone" in a month brought snow and wind to the central U.S. Wednesday and Thursday.


The storm dumped snow on Colorado Wednesday, canceling hundreds of flights at Denver International Airport before moving through the plains to the upper Midwest, where it covered some parts of the region with up to two feet of snow, the Associated Press reported. Heavy snow fell in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota and Wisconsin, The Independent reported. Whiteout conditions were also reported in parts of Nebraska and Kansas, according to the Associated Press.

"We're calling it historic because of the widespread heavy snow," South Dakota meteorologist Mike Connelly told the Chicago Tribune, as The Independent reported. "We will set some record."

The storm claimed at least one life when a Colorado man lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a snow plow, AccuWeather reported.

The weather site projected the storm would cost $3 billion in economic damages. It led to road closures and forced the cancellation of almost 1,000 flights across the region. Conditions prompted Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to declare a state of emergency Thursday night.

Blizzard conditions in Minnesota led to more than 500 crashes, the Minnesota State Patrol said, according to the Associated Press.

"It's a mess out here. And that is an understatement," Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank said.

A video posted on social media by the Minnesota Department of Transportation showed every power line down along a stretch of Highway 59, NPR reported.

AccuWeather said the heaviest snowfall in the region had ended as of Friday morning, but that driving would still be difficult because of light snowfall and wind gusts.

The storm comes about a month after another "bomb cyclone" triggered record-breaking flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This storm is not expected to cause as much flooding, AccuWeather explained:

The March 'bomb cyclone' caused a rapid meltdown of existing snow cover combined with torrential rainfall.

In contrast, rain associated with this storm was not as widespread and snow farther north is not expected to rapidly melt.

Even though rivers are high and some are currently still at major flood stage, a new round of record river flooding is not expected behind the storm.

A "bomb cyclone" is defined as an extreme weather event in which air pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours, leading to a strong storm system, as CNN explained.

Colorado state climatologist Russ Schumacher told CBS News that it was unusual to see two such extreme storms in close succession, but it was not possible to say if climate change was responsible.

"I think it's an interesting question to ask whether there's some climate change fingerprint on this," he said. "But it's a complicated puzzle to piece together."

However, in general global warming has increased both heavy rainfall and flooding in the Midwest as warmer air can hold more moisture, which means storms pour harder, the National Climate Assessment concluded.

If temperatures are cold enough, that moisture can fall as snow as well.

"During the period when it is cold enough to snow, if you've got enough moisture in the air, you can get some wicked big snowstorms," Princeton University professor of geosciences and international affairs Michael Oppenheimer told PBS in 2015.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators outside a Republican presidential debate in Detroit in 2016. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less