Winter Storm Ulmer hits the Midwest

Winter Storm Ulmer hits the Midwest

Jackie Ratcliff stayed in a hotel and on Thursday was waiting in Wellington, Colorado, for Interstate 25 to reopen so she could return to her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The winter storm is so severe that transportation officials in Nebraska shut down all lanes of westbound I-80 at Ogallala starting at 10 a.m. Several Colorado school districts closed Wednesday and Thursday, with Denver Public Schools citing "severe storm, power outages across the city and poor road conditions".

In New Mexico, heavy winds contributed to the derailment of a 26-car train near the village of Logan, according to a tweet from state police.

Five people were hurt and 150 dairy cows had to be euthanized when a tornado hit the small town of Dexter, New Mexico. The state was preparing an emergency declaration, Noem said.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said the derailed cars were the tail end of a mixed-freight train consisting of two locomotives and 73 rail cars.

"A major winter storm will produce numerous impacts across the Central U.S. from the Central Rockies across all of the Plains, Mississippi Valley into the Upper Great Lakes", said the forecast from the National Weather Service.

Stranded motorists across the region had been reached and helped before midnight, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol spokesman said early Thursday.

The patrol advised motorists on Wednesday not to travel. Myers said the sudden wind gusts hit the state with unusual force.

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Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota have all issued blizzard warnings for the storm, CNN reports.

The service says blizzard conditions will continue through Thursday afternoon. But in general, snow will fall over much of North Dakota, with the Fargo-Moorhead area in a snow/rain transition zone, meaning the metro area could receive a mix of rain and snow Wednesday, switching mostly to snow Thursday through Friday morning.

The weather service said it is hard to say exactly what type of precipitation specific locations will receive.

In the transition zone between the warm and cold sectors of the storm, the combination of downpours and melting snow poses flooding concerns in eastern Nebraska and Minnesota, southeast South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and northern MI.

The heftiest snow came down in the mountains, with Wolf Creek Pass along Highway 160 reporting 45 inches.

High wind watches or warnings are affecting more than 20 states. Nebraska was bracing for heavy rains. Colorado was seeing some of the most intense impacts of the storm as of Wednesday morning as well as the development of cyclogenesis.

"Travel will be risky, if not impossible", the NWS says. Many schools and government offices closed for the day. "Conditions are very dicey right now and because of all the accidents the plows can't clear the roads", Williams said, according to the Denver Post.

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