Powerful storm threatens central US with snow and could become a bomb cyclone as it moves east

A strong winter storm is expected to impact a large swath of the US, bringing snow Thursday to the central region before forming into a bomb cyclone on its way east over the weekend.

About 11 million people were under winter weather alerts Thursday, stretching from western Illinois to parts of Utah and Arizona.

“There is increasing confidence that a significant winter storm will develop late Friday across the Southeast and then spread heavy snow across the interior eastern United States through Saturday,” the National Weather Service said Wednesday in a tweet.

“Significant impacts due to heavy snow rates and accumulations are possible from the Tennessee Valley through the Central Appalachians and into much of the interior Northeast.”

In the Midwest, snow was expected to begin falling overnight Wednesday into Thursday in northwest Missouri and eastern Kansas, the National Weather Service in Kansas City said in a tweet.

Up to 8 inches of snow is expected in Kansas City, Kansas, where conditions will likely peak between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford. Meanwhile, Columbia, Missouri, can expect to see up to 4 inches of snow, he said.

The NWS in Kansas City warned that due to snowy weather, the commute Thursday will be messy.

In anticipation of those conditions, schools in Kansas City, Missouri, announced they would close Thursday.

Parts of Nebraska and Flagstaff, Arizona, could see up to 3 inches of snow, Shackelford said.

The storm is also expected to deliver heavy rain and possible thunderstorms to areas in the South, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, and Charleston, South Carolina, as it moves in Friday night to Saturday morning.

A wintery mix and snow will come into play in some areas as temperatures plummet well below average. Forecasts show parts of Alabama and Mississippi could see snow, while some flakes could also mix with Louisiana’s rain.

The weekend in the Northeast

As the storm travels to the east, it’s expected to strengthen into a bomb cyclone.

A bomb cyclone occurs when a midlatitude cyclone decreases in pressure by 24 millibars in under 24 hours, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These strong storms lead to many hazards — but the most notable can be the extreme winds.

Strong winds and snow are in store for the Northeast as the cyclone reaches hurricane-level strength off the Atlantic coast.

Concerns in the interior areas of the Northeast include blizzard-like conditions and widespread wind damage.

“All model guidance has surface wave (the storm) rapidly intensifying as it tracks somewhere between the I-95 corridor to Cape Cod, then along or just off the Maine coast as a sub 970 mb low,” the National Weather Service in Boston said.

A 970 millibar low would be equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.


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