A wide-reaching weather system is sweeping through many parts of the U.S. on Wednesday, bringing operations to a halt with copious amounts of snow and hazardous ice. Here is the most recent information on this powerful weather system.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 22 million Americans were subject to winter storm warnings, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The warnings extended from the Southwest, traversing the Midwest, to parts of New England.
Warnings for both winter storms and ice have been issued for an area from Iowa to Michigan, where over 6 million people live. This icy mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet is expected to hit the area, with Interstate 94 in the impact zone.
The north-western region has received a blizzard warning, impacting two million people located in the northern Plains, Wyoming and Colorado. On Wednesday morning, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota reported whiteout conditions on their roads. Severe snowfall and strong winds made some sections of Interstate 29 impassable.
The Twin Cities have already seen 2 to 5 inches of snow due to this storm system, and more is expected. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has been heavily affected, and Southern Minnesota is forecast to experience blizzard conditions later on.
Tim Walz, the Governor of Minnesota, has mobilized the National Guard to promptly lend a helping hand to citizens in need. The Minnesota State Patrol has requested that individuals stay in their residences when they can.
Forecasts suggest the Twin Cities metro area will experience 18 to 24 inches of snow before the storm ends. If this is the case, then it will be one of the biggest snowstorms the city has ever seen. With a measurement of 16.5 inches, it would end up in the top 10 February snow events, while the most severe snowstorm happened in 2019 when 39 inches fell.
Despite the heavy snowfall across many locations, Dupuyer, Montana stands out as the highest total out of this storm, registering 32 inches of snow at its elevation of over 4,000 feet. Sugar Loaf Mountain in southern Wyoming has amounted to 27 inches.
Snowfall totals in the northern Plains vary drastically, from 1 inch to 14.5 inches. The most snow, 14.5 inches, was reported by the Lake Superior coastline just north of Duluth, Minnesota.
This winter storm is posing a large danger of ice for the Midwest and New England. Hazardous roads, power interruptions, and other issues are all forecasted due to the dense ice. Cities including Des Moines, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Albany may confront these ice effects.
Numerous flight delays and cancellations were caused by the wintry weather, particularly at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, who may need to temporarily close due to the snowy conditions. Denver International Airport and Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport are also facing an abundance of disruptions.
The northern U.S. is not the only area to experience inclement weather. High winds and snowfall at elevated areas have caused power outages throughout the Southwest. By Wednesday morning, nearly 150,000 people had lost electricity. Coastal California was especially hard hit with 100,000 outages, plus more in Arizona and isolated parts of the Rockies.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) adopted a preventative strategy, preemptively blocking off roads that could become hazardous as more snow accumulated at the higher levels. This included a 260-mile length of Interstate 40 near Flagstaff towards the New Mexico border. Furthermore, ADOT sealed a lengthy part of Interstate 17 southbound from Flagstaff.