Bomb cyclone: Central U.S., U.P. hit by snow; floods, rain, wind for southeast Mich.
Southeast Michigan is in for a weather roller coaster the next two days as wind and a wintry mix give way to warmer temperatures and thunderstorms, but the area will be spared from much of the extremes residents of the central U.S. are seeing.
The National Weather Service issued a lake shore flood advisory for Michigan's Wayne and Monroe countries from 2 a.m. Thursday through 2 a.m. Friday.
The risks in Michigan come as a storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” slowly churned through the U.S. interior Thursday for the second time in a month, unleashing a blizzard that struck the Upper Midwest and creating hazardous fire conditions farther south.
The storm knocked out power Wednesday to thousands in South Dakota, disrupted air and ground travel from Colorado to Minnesota and threatened to swell rivers in the Midwest that flooded after March’s drenching.
Both storms are known as a “bomb cyclone,” a weather phenomenon that entails a rapid drop in air pressure and a storm strengthening explosively, said David Roth, a forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.
Parts of Michigan are getting hit by the wintry weather. Light snow was reported Thursday morning in parts of the southern Lower Peninsula, but more snow and ice was forecast in northern portions of the state.
The National Weather Service says that the western Upper Peninsula is being placed under a winter weather warning through early Friday, with a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. Snow accumulations of 6-10 inches are expected, with higher totals in places.
In the northern Lower Peninsula, snow and ice also could make driving hazardous.
In southeast Michigan, wind gusts could reach 30-35 mph near Lake Erie, while a higher water level "along with high wave action, makes lake shore flooding likely," the weather service said. "Higher water level and wave action is also possible along the Wayne County shoreline of Lake St. Clair."
Meanwhile, the forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain, possibly mixed with snow, into early Thursday as temperatures drop into the mid-30s.
The mercury should remain in the 40's on Thursday under mostly cloudy skies then rise into the 50s by early Friday.
The thermometer should reach the upper 60s as rain and thunderstorms arrive, the weather service predicts. New rainfall amounts between a 10th and quarter-inch are possible as winds could gust as high as 29 mph.
Particularly hard hit by the bomb cyclone storm were eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, where up to 2 ½ feet of snow was expected to fall, the National Weather Service said. Winds in excess of 50 mph also were expected, creating life-threatening conditions.
“We’re calling it historic because of the widespread heavy snow. We will set some records,” said Mike Connelly, a weather service meteorologist in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Transportation officials closed Interstate 29 from east central South Dakota to the North Dakota border, as well as a 270-mile section of Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Mitchell, South Dakota.
Numerous traffic crashes were reported in northeastern South Dakota, and the storm knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in Sioux Falls.
Officials in Colorado closed a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 76 from just northeast of Denver to the Nebraska border, and Gov. Jared Polis activated the National Guard in case troops are needed to rescue stranded motorists. Denver Public Schools announced delayed starts Thursday for some campuses due to weather.
About half of the daily flights at Denver International Airport were canceled on Wednesday.
Multiple crashes in Minnesota along a snowy stretch of Interstate 35 prompted officials to close about 10 miles of the highway about 50 miles south of Minneapolis.
In Nebraska, the State Patrol was sending additional troopers into the state’s panhandle, and officials closed Interstate 80 in that region.
“This storm is going to be dangerous,” Patrol Maj. Russ Stanczyk said.
An unusual but not rare weather phenomenon known as “thunder snow” – snow accompanied by thunder and lightning – was reported in central South Dakota.
“It’s essentially a thunderstorm, but it’s cold enough for snow,” Connelly said.