Blizzard Conditions Disrupt Travel Across Northern and Central Plains
Nearly a million people across the Northern and Central Plains were under blizzard or ice storm warnings on Tuesday, as heavy snow, freezing rain and powerful winds created treacherous road conditions that forecasters said could last through early Wednesday.
Blizzard Warnings and Road Conditions
A blizzard warning affecting more than 550,000 people in parts of five states on Tuesday afternoon — Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming — would be in effect until early Wednesday morning in part of the region, where areas could receive as much as six inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 60 m.p.h., the National Weather Service said.
The storm is classified as a blizzard when it contains large amounts of snow, winds over 35 m.p.h., and visibility of less than a quarter mile for at least three hours.
In addition to the blizzard warning, more than 300,000 people were under an ice storm warning in the Dakotas and a slice of western Minnesota. Sleet and freezing rain were expected to create hazardous travel conditions in these areas.
Current Weather Conditions and Impact
Parts of South Dakota were expected to receive up to 13 inches of snow, with wind gusts as high as 55 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Some areas in Nebraska and South Dakota had already received significant snowfall, with up to a foot of snow in certain towns since Monday.
Forecasters predict an additional four inches of snow in western South Dakota, western Nebraska, far eastern Wyoming, and northeastern Colorado before the storm tapers off on Wednesday.
Travel Disruptions and Safety Precautions
The storm has caused significant travel disruptions in the Plains region, with road closures and accidents reported. Interstate 80 in Nebraska was closed in both directions between Paxton and Big Springs due to white-out conditions and accidents.
Motorists are advised to exercise caution and travel at reduced speeds. Freezing temperatures and wind gusts of more than 55 miles per hour can create icy roads and whiteout conditions throughout the day.
Power outages are also a concern, particularly in South Dakota where strong winds may damage trees and power lines. Air travel has been minimally impacted, with only a few canceled flights and delays.