Climate change triggers "bomb cyclone" as devastation rages across U.S. central states

Climate change triggers

A blizzard of "historic proportions" that hit the U.S. Rocky Mountain and Plains states this week was moving eastward on Thursday as it weakened, hurling hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and heavy rain on its way, weather officials said.

The quickly rising floods evacuated people from their homes, washed out roads in communities, and left farmers anxious all the water would drown livestock. Colorado (top left) and Wyoming are still reeling from the blizzard that blasted through on Wednesday as 25,500 are still without power.

Ellenbolt also quoted Tony Mangan of the state's public safety department, who said, "I mean, if you don't have the snow in parts of the state, you have flooding in the southeast and south central parts". On Thursday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an emergency disaster proclamation and activated the state emergency operations center, and all or part of nine state parks were closed due to rising floodwaters.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts issued an emergency declaration for the state, citing forecasts of up to 2 feet (0.61 m) of snow and high winds that are expected to make travel "difficult to impossible" on roads.

Numerous creeks and streams were out of their banks and caused widespread flooding, the National Weather Service office in Des Moines said.

Winter Storm Ulmer is still hammering the Plains with snow, high winds and blizzard conditions on Thursday after killing at least two as the storm became a bomb cyclone.

Experts say the storm has developed into a "bomb cyclone", when atmospheric pressure takes a big drop creating hurricane winds, tornados and severe blizzards.

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Highways were also closed in the Nebraska Panhandle, South Dakota and near the Wyoming border on Thursday due to the storm. And in New Mexico, 36 miners at a nuclear waste repository were trapped underground in an elevator for about three hours because of a power outage caused by the extreme weather.

As authorities scrambled to rescue drivers, Colorado State Patrol Corporal Daniel Groves was killed after being struck by a vehicle while helping a stranded driver.

About 50 National Guard soldiers and airmen used specialized vehicles with tank-like treads to rescue 75 people stranded in their cars during the storm.

A tornado in New Mexico ripped roofs from buildings in the small town of Dexter, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of Albuquerque.

Bria McKenzie, 22, said she and her mother, brother and sister were stuck in their auto for more than two hours on a hilly road in Colorado Springs.

Because of the rapid drop of pressure associated with a bomb cyclone, tornado watches have been issued in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. There are no immediate reports of any injuries, but homes and trees were damaged and power was knocked out to thousands. When that much air rushes higher into the atmosphere, it causes severe weather. As of late Wednesday night, "we still had 1,100 people stranded who had been there anywhere from an hour to seven hours", Kirby said.

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