A major storm hits the western and central United States


A severe, wide-ranging storm affected much of the west and plains on Tuesday, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.

Why is this important: The range of hazards is unusual even for the generally unstable spring in the United States, with everything from wildfires to an outbreak of severe multi-day thunderstorm and, for some, even tornadoes and blizzard conditions.

Threat level: Certain types of extreme weather events, including combined events with multiple hazards occurring simultaneously, pose an increasing threat with climate change.

The big picture: Nearly 9 million people were red flagged for dangerous fire weather on Monday due to dry conditions and high winds. West Texas could be particularly affected, as well as parts of Oklahoma and western Nebraska.

  • According to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, there is an increased risk of severe thunderstorms in northeast Kansas through southern Minnesota, as well as parts of northern Texas and a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms in extreme eastern Nebraska to central Iowa.

To note : After most tornadoes occurred in March in the United States, more severe weather began to hit central Texas through Iowa on Tuesday, moving eastward on Wednesday.

  • Tornado watches were issued overnight for most of the region in and around northern Iowa, central Texas and Louisiana. the NWS confirmed a twister landed in Salado, Bell County, Texas, where big hail was also reported on Tuesday evening.
  • Bell County Judge David Blackburn said the tornado injured 23 people and caused “significant” damage in the city, according to NBC News.

By the numbers: Nearly 69,000 customers in Louisiana and nearly 61,000 more in Texas were without power as of Wednesday morning, according to utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

What else is going on: The main storm system was bringing heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions to areas such as the Northern Plains through Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

  • A raging blizzard was on tap for North Dakota, where the NWS warned of “extreme impacts” of two to three feet of snow, and an all-time April snowfall record could be set.
  • Road closures have been reported in several states, including North Dakota Tuesday evening, including at the borders with Canada and Montana, and Colorado where poor visibility due to “blowing snow” caused at least one car accident, according to 9 News.

Meanwhile, “Extremely critical fire weather” also developed across the central and southern high plains on Tuesday, according to the NWS.

  • Homes in New Mexico were among about 150 structures razed by the 3,000-acre McBride Fire that prompted the evacuation of a high school in the village of Ruidoso, south of Santa Fe, on Tuesday amid hot, dry conditions , reports NBC News.

And after: “Extensive severe thunderstorms likely appear over much of the lower/middle Mississippi Valley in the Midwest and lower Ohio Valley on Wednesday,” the NWS Storm Prediction Center said.

  • Severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and tornadoes were possible from the plains in the Mississippi River Valley through Thursday.
  • “Damaging winds, some of which could be severe, multiple tornadoes (some strong) and large to very large hail are likely to occur,” the forecast center noted.
Photo: NWS Birmingham/Twitter

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with more details on the Bell County tornado, power outages and NM fire.


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