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Midwest storm brings extreme weather

Kathy Gibson walks across the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis with her dogs, Stella and Lucy, on Tuesday, April 11, 2019. Photo for The Washington Post by Jenn Ackerman.1 / 3
Snowfall totals through late morning Thursday. National Weather Service.2 / 3
Danny McFadden braves the elements in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday, April 11, 2019. Photo for The Washington Post by Jenn Ackerman.3 / 3

A wild spring storm is walloping parts the Midwest U.S. with extreme temperatures, heavy snow, blizzards and high winds.

It's already caused mayhem from the Rockies to the Midwest. Thundersnow has been common, and snow totals keep climbing - already up to 18 inches in spots. High-speed winds, over 70 mph in some areas, have rocked the Plains, sending dust plumes flying.

On the storm's south side, sweltering heat has set records; in the north, temperatures are more typical of midwinter. The temperature contrasts over relatively small distances have been extraordinary.

The storm's intensity has flirted with historically low levels over Kansas, indicating an exceptionally strong storm.

Major temperature contrasts help develop giant storms like this one, which is feeding off unusually chilly air to the north of its center.

On the southern side, it's been the opposite.

As snow was beginning to paste parts of the Plains and Midwest, record high temperatures were occurring across parts of the Southern Plains and into the Mid-South. Widespread readings well into the 80s, 90s and 100s were common in Texas on Wednesday, April 10.

Del Rio in South Texas broke a daily and monthly record with a 107 degree high temperature. This beat the March record of 106 degrees set in 1984 there, and it demolished the daily record of 102 degrees.

A sample of other record highs Wednesday includes 87 degrees in Joplin, Missouri, 88 degrees in Pensacola Florida, and 85 degrees in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Whiteouts and scattered wind damage have been common to the north of the storm center since Wednesday. The blizzard was peaking Thursday.

In South Dakota, public officials are advising residents to avoid travel.

They indicate that a majority of roads and highways are closed across the state as blizzards continue into Thursday afternoon.

In addition to greatly lowered visibility and heavy snow, thundersnow has erupted in this region.

There was even a severe thunderstorm dropping hail in the blizzard warning west of Minneapolis early Thursday. Several reports of hail up to 1 inch in diameter came in, from places with snow on the ground at the same time.

Although the storm intensity has peaked and it is forecast to wind itself down over the next day, additional snowfall of a foot or more is likely in the eastern Dakotas and into western Minnesota. A larger region surrounding that can still expect at least several more inches along with relentless wind.

The focus of the heaviest snow has so far been across parts of the central to northern Plains and upper Midwest. Much of South Dakota has seen at least 8 to 12 inches of snow.

To the west, in Denver, 2.5 inches was reported officially but much of the city saw more, with reports of up to 10 inches between there and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Totals of 5 to 10 inches are also common into parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota, including at least 8 inches in Minneapolis, where this has become the third top 10 April snowstorm in recent years.

Per reports to the National Weather Service, below are the highest snow totals by state thus far:

South Dakota: Dupree and Mud Butte, 18 inches

Wyoming: Alta, 18 inches

Wisconsin: Osseo, 10.5 inches

Colorado: Fort Garland, 10 inches

Nebraska: Harrison, 10 inches

Minnesota: Lakeville, 9.8 inches

North Dakota: Havana, 4 inches

Iowa: Dorchester, 3 inches

Michigan: Saint Johns, 2.5 inches

Kansas: Oakley, 1.5 inches

Numbers will continue to grow into early Friday, and some records are likely to be broken.

The worst of the winds were focused on parts of the southern Rockies and High Plains on Wednesday.

Several areas in New Mexico's plains saw gusts above 70 mph. One observation near Clovis showed a gust to 77 mph.

Across the border, from West Texas into the panhandle, also saw a number of gusts above 65 mph, including a 70 mph report from Anton, northwest of Lubbock. Peak gusts of around 60 mph were also common into western Kansas and eastern Colorado.

In mountainous elevations, a gust to 107 mph was recorded in Colorado, as were numerous others approaching or surpassing 80 mph.

These winds came along with tons of dust; satellite images show a long trail coming off White Sands park in New Mexico.

As this dust was ingested into the storm system, it appears to have made it as far north as parts of Minnesota, where pictures of dusty snow have come across the wire.

This article was written by Ian Livingston, special to The Washington Post.

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