Winter Storm Kayla spread blizzard or near-blizzard conditions throughout the Plains and Upper Midwest, and the impact now is a threat for hundreds of thousands. Wind speeding over 60 MPH advanced northeast through these regions, and this left over 100 miles of Interstate 80 closed on Tuesday in Nebraska.
The state Department of Transportation reported that the driving conditions, because of the weather, are nearly impossible, and there is no timeline for clearing the freeway.
Several parts of five states from north-central Kansas to southwest Minnesota are affected, and are under blizzard warnings, including Mason City, Iowa, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Grand Island, Nebraska. Whiteout conditions because of snow and wind have been experienced in these regions.
Snow is reported to rise up to 6 inches in the forecast for Iowa’s biggest city, while over 2,000 residents in Des Moines were found to be living inside homes, in the cold, after a power cut-off caused by the blizzard. Winter Storm Kayla was expected to dump up to 19 inches of snow in the Midwest.
“We’ve been shivering with cold because of the power cut-off. Tactical boots and warm clothes protect us to some extent from the cold, but without power, all we can do is wait for the storm to stop and pass,” said a local resident.
“Extremely hazardous travel to nearly impossible at times. Please reconsider any travel plans,” the National Weather Service in Des Moines wrote in a forecast discussion.
Local reports also say that the condition in Mitchell County became so poor that the crew pulled all snow plows off the roads this morning. Almost all the roads in southern and western Iowa are covered with snow and ice.
“From Wyoming to Michigan, winter-storm alerts were in effect across at least eight states, with strong winds likely to snarl travel and make roads hazardous. Some areas could even see lightning and thundersnow,” the Weather Channel reported.
Winter Storm Kayla has also caused the cancellation of more than 300 flights as at 6 a.m. ET, as reported by FlightAware, with Denver, Colorado, experiencing the most problems.
The storm has also triggered 3,400 lightning strikes across Arizona while also delivering a record-setting snowfall in Colorado.
“Blizzard warnings are in effect for northern Kansas, northeast Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota, southwest Minnesota and northern Iowa,” Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth said.
“Minneapolis was forecast to see between 5-8 inches of snow Tuesday, with 11 inches forecast for Omaha, 12-18 inches for Sioux City, Iowa, and ‘about a foot’ across Wisconsin.
“That will reduce visibility to very poor, with dangerous driving conditions. In white-out conditions you won’t be able to see very far in front of you, if at all.”
Kayla’s strong wind gusts of 53 mph were recorded in Nebraska, which has left around 8,800 residents without power on Tuesday, according to the NWS. Nebraska has been hit by 6-foot snow drifts this morning, which has led to the closing of Holdrege Airport and roads. The storm has left at least one foot of snow in Holdrege, while many school districts also cancelled classes Tuesday. You can find a complete list of closures here.
Here are some storm reports by state as of Tuesday midday.
Midwest and Plains Region
- Moorhead: 9.2 inches
- Near Mason City: 6.5 inches
- Des Moines: 2.5 inches
- Park: 14.3 inches
- Long Island: Drifts up to 5 feet, blizzard conditions with visibility under one-eighth mile
- Grand Island: 14.9 inches (whiteout conditions Tuesday morning)
- Norfolk: 12 inches
- North Platte: 11.1 inches
- Omaha metro: 5-7 inches
- 6-foot drifts with reports of people stuck in rural Phelps County
- Vermillion: 8 inches; Yankton: 6.5 inches; Custer: 5 inches
- Grand Canyon North Rim: 15 inches; Flagstaff Airport: 10.2 inches
- Lake Thomas Edison: 30 inches; Grant Grove: 27.1 inches
- Coal Bank Pass: 41 inches; Ft. Collins (foothills): 15-17 inches; Denver Int’l Airport: 10.4 inches
- Mount Rose Ski Area: 19 inches; Ely: 10.2 inches
- Angel Fire: 16.7; Chama: 9.5 inches
- Blanding and Moab: 6 inches
- Near Saratoga: 20 inches; Cheyenne: up to 15 inches
The storm is predicted to wind down by the end of Wednesday.
[Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images]