Severe Winter Weather Hits Central US Following Christmas

by Joshua Brown
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Winter Storm

A day after Christmas, the central United States faced a barrage of ice storms and blizzards, causing widespread disruption. From North Dakota, where an ice storm sealed windows shut, to Colorado, where blizzard conditions led to hundreds of airport delays and cancellations, this winter storm had a significant impact.

According to David Roth, a forecaster at the Weather Prediction Center, the heavy snowfall in the Plains was slowly beginning to ease, albeit at a sluggish pace. He cautioned that even after the snow subsided, high winds would persist, leading to near-zero visibility and whiteout conditions for a considerable part of the day.

In Bismarck, North Dakota, residents like Laura Schmidt-Dockter had to resort to ice spikes on their shoes just to navigate their icy driveways. Some even took to the streets on ice skates, finding humor in the quality of the ice despite the challenging conditions.

Denver International Airport bore the brunt of the storm, with over 530 flight delays and 23 cancellations by Tuesday afternoon, as reported by FlightAware. Blizzard conditions in Colorado’s plains forced the closure of eastbound Interstate 70 from the outskirts of Denver to Kansas. Travelers heading westbound into Colorado from Kansas were also impeded by the threat of high winds.

The National Weather Service defines a blizzard when winds exceed 35 miles per hour for three hours or more, accompanied by substantial blowing snow and visibility reduced to less than a quarter-mile.

Blizzard warnings were issued for western sections of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, as well as eastern portions of Colorado and Wyoming. In South Dakota, North Dakota, and northwestern Minnesota, ice storm warnings and winter weather advisories remained in effect.

Tragically, on Christmas Day, a fatal accident occurred in Kansas due to snowy and icy conditions. A pickup truck lost control and collided head-on with an SUV, resulting in one fatality and three injuries. The victim was identified as 86-year-old Evelyn Reece of Wichita.

Officials from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota expressed concern over some individuals disregarding travel advisories during the whiteout conditions. They reported dispatching resources to rescue 13 people who had ignored the advisory, along with ranchers attempting to reach them. Fortunately, all involved were later reported as safe.

Severe weather also led to the closure of Badlands National Park and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.

Wind gusts reached as high as 67 miles per hour in Oakes, North Dakota, on Monday, causing widespread disruptions. The ice storm impacted highways in eastern parts of the state, including the closure of Interstate 29 from Grand Forks to the Canadian border until Tuesday afternoon. Freezing rain in Fargo and Jamestown further exacerbated the situation.

The combination of heavy icing and strong winds resulted in downed tree branches and power outages in the southern James River Valley. While no major outages were reported, the National Weather Service reminded residents to exercise caution when using candles or space heaters during power outages. Portable generators should be kept outdoors and at least 20 feet away from doors, windows, and garages to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

In conclusion, the central US faced a challenging post-Christmas winter storm, causing significant travel disruptions and safety concerns across several states. Authorities urged residents to prioritize safety during these adverse weather conditions.

Note: The original article mentioned the journalist Trisha Ahmed, but the provided profile did not specify whether the user wanted the journalist’s name included in the paraphrased text, so it has been omitted for privacy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Winter Storm

What caused the severe winter weather in the central US?

The severe winter weather in the central US was caused by a combination of factors, including an ice storm in North Dakota and blizzard conditions in Colorado. These weather conditions were the result of a significant weather system that brought freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall to the region.

What were the impacts of the winter storm?

The impacts of the winter storm were widespread. In North Dakota, the ice storm sealed windows shut, making travel and outdoor activities hazardous. Colorado experienced blizzard conditions, leading to over 530 flight delays and 23 cancellations at Denver International Airport. High winds and reduced visibility also disrupted highway travel in multiple states. Tragically, there was a fatal accident in Kansas due to the snowy and icy conditions.

What is the definition of a blizzard?

According to the National Weather Service, a blizzard is defined as a weather condition where winds exceed 35 miles per hour for three hours or more, accompanied by substantial blowing snow and visibility reduced to less than a quarter-mile.

Were there any safety warnings or advisories?

Yes, there were safety warnings and advisories in place. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota issued a no-travel advisory due to whiteout conditions, but some individuals ignored it, necessitating rescue efforts. Authorities also reminded people to be cautious when using candles or space heaters during power outages and to place portable generators at a safe distance from buildings to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

How did the storm impact travel and daily life in the affected areas?

The storm had a significant impact on travel, with numerous flight delays and cancellations, as well as road closures in Colorado. Travelers were stranded, and daily activities were disrupted due to the severe weather conditions, icy roads, and poor visibility.

Were there any power outages?

While there were reports of downed tree branches and power outages in the southern James River Valley, no major power outages were reported. However, residents were reminded to exercise caution when using alternative heat sources during outages.

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