A strong storm system that had previously spawned violent tornadoes in Texas brought heavy snow and blizzard conditions to the Rocky Mountains and western Plains.
On Sunday morning, more than 7 million Americans were under winter weather alerts, with around 300,000 under blizzard warnings.
Snow and blizzard conditions were expected to last until early Sunday afternoon, before steadily improving. According to the National Weather Service, the blizzard warning has been expanded into Colorado along the Front Range, which includes Denver.
Aside from the heavy snow, the area is experiencing very strong winds, with sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph and gusts of 45 to 50 mph. These winds are triggering blizzard conditions in some regions, but they are expected to weaken later this afternoon.
The areas northwest of Boulder, Colorado, to areas around Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming, are predicted to receive the most snowfall. Cheyenne has received over 18 inches of snow near the airport, while Denver has received just 11 inches. Boulder has received 8 to 12 inches of snow, while Estes Park has received just over a foot.
According to CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin, as many as 18 inches of snow could fall in Denver, while places north of Boulder could see more than 2 feet.
Avalanche danger is “high” for the Front Range until Monday morning, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. According to the core, the current storm’s heavy and extreme snowfall will cause significant and damaging avalanches at all elevation levels, above and below the tree line, and in “unusual locations.”
From north of Denver to the Wyoming border, the National Weather Service in Boulder reported moderate to heavy snow and poor travel conditions early Sunday.
The Denver International Airport’s runways were closed due to blowing snow and poor visibility, and more than 2,000 flights into and out of Denver were cancelled this weekend. Several major highways, including two interstates, are closed throughout Colorado.
According to snowfall totals recorded by the National Weather Service, Leadville, Colorado, received more than 10 inches of snow early Sunday, while Sawpit, Colorado, received nearly 10 inches.
According to Mauldin, the snow, combined with high winds, could cause blizzard conditions in parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota, making travel in those areas nearly impossible.
The weather service in Salt Lake City predicted snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet in Uinta County, Wyoming. Cheyenne’s weather service confirmed having more than 8 inches of snow on Saturday.
The weather service issued a winter storm warning for the western Uinta Mountains and Uinta County, Wyoming, until 6 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, flood alerts and warnings were in place for parts of Kansas and Missouri, as well as parts of Nebraska and Iowa, where heavy rain was falling.
“Be on the lookout for localized flooding in normal flood-prone areas,” the Wichita, Kansas, weather service warned on Twitter.
The Southeast will face flooding problems as the storm system moves east over the next day or two. Monday and Tuesday may bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to parts of Alabama and Georgia. The Atlanta weather service predicted “multiple waves” of rain and storms from Monday to Thursday, with rainfall totals of 2-3 inches.
Soon after the National Weather Service in Amarillo confirmed two simultaneous tornadoes in the city, Randall County Sheriff Christopher Forbis issued an alert of numerous downed power lines and baseball-sized hail on Saturday evening.
The sheriff said Saturday night that “extensive tornado damage” had been reported in parts of the county, but that no injuries had been reported.
According to Mauldin, there were 40 preliminary severe storm warnings on Saturday, 11 of which were tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service in Little Rock, extreme weather threats moved to Arkansas on Sunday, with showers and heavy thunderstorms predicted throughout the afternoon and evening.