‘Historic’ blizzard bomb cyclone unfolding… Winter Storm Ulmer Coverage

‘Bomb cyclone’ brings blizzards, flooding and hurricane-force winds to the central US, and it’s not over


A “bomb cyclone” is dumping snow and heavy rain on the central United States, stranding travelers, leaving tens of thousands without electricity and leading to a police officer’s death in Colorado.

  • Bombogenesis refers to a rapidly intensifying area of low pressure.
  • To be classified as a weather bomb, the central pressure of a low-pressure system must drop at least 24 millibars within 24 hours.
  • Winter Storm Ulmer became a bomb cyclone Wednesday.

The storm’s center was over Iowa and Nebraska early Thursday, and while it did its worst damage in the Plains, it will continue delivering dangerous weather conditions to 105 million people who are under some sort of watch, warning or advisory as it moves east.

A bomb cyclone occurs when there is a rapid pressure drop, with a decrease of at least 24 millibars — a measure of atmospheric pressure — over 24 hours. This storm dropped 33 millibars from Tuesday into Wednesday.


A historic blizzard is unfolding in the central U.S. on Wednesday, with hurricane-force winds buffeting parts of several states.

The storm brings with it all manner of nastiness. While Colorado is seeing blizzard conditions, Iowa and Illinois are experiencing flooding, especially in areas along the Mississippi River. Nebraska has been hit hard by flooding, while the Platte, Elkhorn and Missouri rivers have topped their banks in Missouri.

Winds of more than 100 mph have slammed into San Augustin Pass, New Mexico, and Pine Springs, Texas. Through early Thursday, residents of Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma can expect winds of between 30 and 50 mph, with gusts in some areas reaching 65 mph, according to forecasts.


Flooding from heavy rain and a melting snowpack is threatening towns across the Midwest, swelling waterways to historic levels in places, compromising flood protections and triggering evacuations for hundreds of residents in Nebraska.

third of the 24,000 residents in Norfolk, Nebraska, were ordered to evacuate Thursday after the city’s levee system “neared its top,” city officials said. One person was reported missing after their car was swept away, News Channel Nebraska reported.

“Our ability to respond to emergencies is limited. This is a real threat for us. If that levee is breached, the water is trapped in town and we’ll see flooding like we haven’t seen since 1965 and there’s nowhere for the water to go,” Norfolk Public Safety Director Shane Weidner said.


According to a report by the National Weather Service, the Spencer Dam at the Niobrara River failed around 5 p.m. Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of dozens of residents.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office posted a notice on Facebook Thursday morning warning residents, noting that the dam had been “compromised.”

The Nebraska State Patrol tweeted a photo showing where a bridge on Highway 281 over the Niobrara River south of the dam had washed away.

A hospital and nursing home were evacuated in Genoa, Nebraska, after the Loup River overtopped an intake structure at the the Loup Power Division, New Channel Nebraska reported.

The Nebraska State Patrol is assisting with evacuations but are having trouble accessing the community, News Channel Nebraska reported. The station also notes there are “no safe evacuation routes.”

Handing out blankets at airports

More than 3,700 flights have been canceled over two days. About 2,000 flights were canceled Wednesday, and at least 1,700 had been dropped by early Thursday, according to data from the flight-tracking site Flightaware.com.

Denver International Airport was hit the hardest. All runways were closed Wednesday because of icy conditions and extremely poor visibility caused by the intense storm, the airport said on Twitter. Roads around the airport were also closed or blocked by traffic accidents for much of the day.

Airport employees handed out blankets to accommodate passengers who were stuck overnight.

“For those passengers joining us overnight, we want you to be as comfortable as possible. Please stop by the customer service booths on Concourses A, B or at baggage claim 9 in the terminal and pick up a blanket,” an airport tweet said Wednesday evening.

The airport announced on Twitter early Thursday that four of its six terminals have reopened, but more than 700 flights into or out of Denver have been canceled for the day.

The storm will move east Thursday, bringing what the National Weather Service calls “a Great Plains cyclone of historic proportions.”

In Iowa, flooding closed several highways, including the closure Thursday of Interstate 680 near Council Bluffs and a portion of Interstate 29, the Associated Press reports.

Just before 11 a.m., the mayor of Hornick, Iowa, ordered the town’s residents to evacuate immediately because of a levee breach.

Several breached levees prompted evacuations in Missouri Valley, the AP also reports.

On Wednesday, a line of powerful storms in Texas brought damaging winds that knocked out power to tens of thousands, toppled mobile homes and ripped off roofs.

Southern portions of Kilgore, Texas, in Rusk County reported widespread damage from high winds, the Kilgore Police Department said, noting that there were many power lines down.

Rusk County Office of Emergency Management said Thursday all roads in and out of Kilgore are “severely limited.”

Early Wednesday, a woman was injured after wind knocked over a mobile home onto a parked vehicle near Cleburne, Texas. The woman, who was inside the mobile home when it overturned, was transported to an area hospital, but there is no word on the extent of her injuries, the Johnson County Emergency Management tweeted.

The storms caused damage to several planes at the Grand Prairie Municipal Airport and forced the closure of the President George Bush Turnpike near Dallas after high winds toppled a semitrailer, the Dallas News reports.

Winds ripped off the roof of an Amazon warehouse facility near DFW airport. Video posted to social media show sheets of metal from the structure striking vehicles parked outside of the building. No injuries were reported.

Damage was also reported at a Federal Aviation Administration facility near DFW airport.

As the storms approached, students at the University of Texas Arlington were urged to shelter in place, the Dallas News said.

Extensive damage was also reported in the town of Zephyr, about 160 miles southwest of Dallas, Big County reported.

More than 64,000 customers remained without power Thursday in Texas, according to poweroutage.us.

Currently Colorado has 85k without power.

We will keep you updated with indepth coverage! Be sure to catch us live tonight at 9PM EST on our Youtube Channel!

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