While beautiful spring temperatures have settled into the Plains and Midwest, don’t get used to it. There’s a storm on the way that’s going to remind Midwesterners that winter isn’t over until it’s over.
The potential is there for a “bomb cyclone” to impact the Plains this week. That’s an area of low pressure that drops 24 millibars in 24 hours — aka a potent, rapidly intensifying storm system.
This would be the second time in less than a month a storm of this magnitude has developed in the Plains. It’s rare enough to have one form inland, much less, two.
Typically we see “bomb cyclones” form off the US East Coast in the form of nor’easters.
Right now the forecast models have the storm teetering on the edge of bomb cyclone criteria. Either way, this storm is forecast to unleash a variety of wild weather this week.
Things begin to unravel Tuesday
This powerful storm is forecast to develop Tuesday in the Rockies, where it will rapidly intensify and bring blizzard-like conditions to the Plains on Wednesday.
Winter storm watches are already posted for parts of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota.
Arctic air will dive south, bringing frigid temperatures and possible blizzard conditions for portions of the Rockies, Plains and even Great Lakes.
Up to 18 inches of snow will be possible with wind gusts of 45-50 mph in the Dakotas, along with white-out conditions.
Thursday the bottom drops out
Overnight temperatures in the Plains will drop 40 degrees in just 12 hours.
Thursday the storm will reach the Midwest, bringing with it the heavy snow. Ten inches of snow is possible for places like Minneapolis.
While an April snowstorm seems like a punch in the gut, April snowstorms do happen. Just last year, the Twin Cities experienced their top April snowstorm with 15.8 inches of snow April 13-16, 2018.
Air travel will be drastically slowed, and road travel will be treacherous.
The snow is not the only hazard from the storm.
In the warmer air to the south, severe weather could break out Wednesday afternoon and evening in parts of Kansas and Nebraska.
On Thursday the threat will shift farther east into Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds are likely with some of the storms.
The storm will exacerbate flooding concerns through the Midwest
Additional flooding in the Plains by the weekend is likely.
We’ve already seen significant flooding along the Red River because of melting snow. Now with additional rain and snowmelt, more flooding will be expected.
In South Dakota and Western Minnesota, the James and Elm rivers will continue to experience moderate to major flooding.
Any additional rain and snow will cause these rivers to rise even higher. There’s also the threat of ice jam flooding through the weekend.
Even if this storm doesn’t become a bomb cyclone, it’s still going to be extremely powerful. And after temperatures hit the mid-60s to mid-70s this past weekend, the drastic change will leave millions of Americans wishing spring weather would hurry and stay.