Whiteout conditions were reported in northwest Kansas and western Nebraska, where the Department of Transportation closed several highways Thursday morning. Officials urged drivers to be cautious, with states such as South Dakota warning people in some counties to stay off the roads completely.
Just last month, a bomb cyclone hit many of these same areas, including Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Records also were expected to fall in the Upper Midwest, Weather service meteorologist Steven Fleegel said.
"We are waiting to see what happens when the snow melts", she said, noting that warm temperatures since then have thawed the ground and could result in less flooding. "Road closures will be likely".
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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem on Wednesday closed state government offices in 52 counties under a blizzard warning, according to a statement from her office.
A major spring storm unloaded heavy snow and blizzard conditions from the Dakotas to Minnesota, and is expected to make travel a nightmare for the 1.6 million people in its path as it makes its way toward Canada. The highest wind gust reported was in Pueblo, Colorado, at 107 miles per hour - the equivalent of sustained winds in a Category 2 hurricane, he added.
"It is part of the same one-two punch that has accompanied the storms over the past few months", Gust said.
"Hopefully this time it will be a slow snowmelt", Roth said.
Parts of South Dakota have seen up to 18 inches of snow, and "thunder snow" - snow that falls along with the crash of thunder and the flash of lightning - was also reported in the central part of the state.
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Almost 40,000 homes and business were without power across Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. "The color is likely due to dust that was blown by high winds all the way from west Texas". Forecasters in New Mexico said the winds also would make travel hard on north-south oriented roads such as Interstate 25.
In addition to the immediate impacts, the storm threatened to swell rivers in the Midwest that flooded after March's drenching, which caused billions of dollars in flood damage in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota.
The storm, named Wesley by The Weather Channel, brought unsafe winds, heavy snowfalls, hail risk, downed powerlines, flooding and even thunderstorms and tornado warnings in some areas.
Even moderate rises in the Missouri River will push more water into drenched Fremont County in southwestern Iowa, Emergency Manager Mike Crecelius said.
In Nebraska where people are still recovering from last month's floods, farmer Brad Wilkins said, "Instead of Nebraska Strong it should be Nebraska exhausted". "Once the storm is done and things start to dry out a bit, we will get back to patching".
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