Much of the country is gearing up for severe weather this weekend as late-season winter storms intensify.
A slow-moving system could produce the biggest snowfall in decades for the Eastern Rockies and Western Plains before it moves east – and the Storm Prediction Center has issued a level three out of five severe weather threat.
Parts of Wyoming, including Cheyenne, and Nebraska are under blizzard warnings while there are Winter Storm Warnings and Advisories in effect for other parts of the region, CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said.
The system will bring heavy rains of around 4 inches across the Midwest over a 72-hour period before it slowly moves to the East Coast next week, bringing wet days with it.
And once it tapers off in the regions impacted by snow Monday, another system is poised to take its place and continue delivering winter weather, Mauldin said.
Snow through central portions of the US is expected to ramp up Saturday, but likely won’t reach its peak until Sunday, Mauldin said.
Denver could see up to 2 feet of snow, with the Front Range Mountains and Foothills possibly seeing up to 4 feet. The highest elevations of southeast Wyoming could see more than 4 feet of snow.
This area is no stranger to March snowfalls. In fact, March is actually the snowiest month of the year for portions of Colorado and Wyoming. In Denver, each of the top 10 March snowstorms totals over a foot of snow. This year could be added to that list.
“The snowfall totals currently forecast are absolutely historic,” the NWS office in Cheyenne said.
On Sunday, the severe storms will push east into Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Tornadoes in Texas
There were reports of overturned tractor trailer trucks on Interstate 27 south of Amarillo, Texas, due to a tornado Saturday afternoon, the NWS in Amarillo reported, as a “confirmed, extremely dangerous tornado” was spotted just west of Palo Duro Canyon.
Several tornado warnings were in effect in the area, according to the Amarillo and Lubbock NWS offices.
Baseball-sized hail was reported in Randall County, Texas, where two tornadoes were reported around the same time, and multiple power lines were down, Sheriff Christopher Forbis said on Facebook.
A tornado watch is in effect until 6 p.m. CST Saturday for Northwest Texas and east-Central New Mexico, and a tornado watch is in effect until 9 p.m. CST for all of the Texas panhandle.
The storms could produce golf ball-sized or larger hail and damaging wind gusts of 70 mph, CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said before the tornadoes hit.
Rain threatens flooding
Flood alerts are also a big concern for this system in the Midwest.
With some rivers nearing flood stage, the anticipated heavy rain could take the rivers to dangerous levels.
Flooding is also a threat on Sunday, particularly across portions of Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.
Other states – such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Indiana – also could see flooding, especially if multiple storms pass over the same locations, according to forecasts.
Widespread rainfall totals through Sunday are expected to be in the 2- to 4-inch range, but some isolated spots could exceed 6 inches.