The intense snowstorm unleashed yesterday over large sectors of the Great Plains and the Midwest of the United States, where some 200 million people live, caused road and airport closures, power cuts and river overflows. The storm, a “cyclone bomb” similar to the one that crossed the same region on March 13, leaving millions of dollars in damage and at least four dead, dumped large amounts of snow mainly in Nebraska and South Dakota, states that have not yet recovered from the floods caused by the previous storm.
The term “cyclone bomb” refers to a strong storm with blizzards and snowfalls of up to two feet, floods, tornadoes and torrential rains. This phenomenon is an extreme manifestation of cyclogenesis: the confluence of a mass of hot air with a very cold one.
But precisely because of this experience, this time the governors of the affected states took preventive measures sufficiently in advance to prevent the circulation of vehicles on the roads and so that emergency personnel were already on alert to perform rescues or respond to accidents. St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the storm arrived before crossing into Canada, was forced to order all planes to stay on the ground until the storm passed. At the Denver airfield in Colorado, 183 flights were cancelled and 44 were significantly delayed due to the cyclone bomb.
According to early estimates, flood damage in Iowa and Nebraska, including destruction of property and loss of livestock and crops, will exceed $3 billion, local media say. “We believe this is a historic storm because of the heavy and extensive snowfall. We are going to reach new records”, said Mike Connelly of the National Weather Service (NWS) in Aberdeen, South Dakota.