More than 55 people million are under a high wind threat; more than 10 million are under winter storm threats; and more than 17 million are under a flood threat. "Snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour have been reported in eastern Colorado along with thundersnow", according to the Weather Channel.
A 250-mile (402-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rock Springs in southern Wyoming was closed, along with a 300-mile (483-kilometer) section of Interstate 25 from Buffalo, Wyoming, to the Colorado border. It rapidly gained strength during the early Wednesday and was producing some of the lowest barometric readings ever observed in the area.
And its central pressure is dropping to levels that could set records for a storm of this type.
It claimed blizzard conditions are possible for the Central and Northern High Plains.
Travel will be risky and nearly impossible in some places. The majority of those cancellations were flights destined for or originating at Denver International Airport (DIA), where a blizzard warning is in effect.
The NWS has issued flood watches along the Missouri River throughout the Midwest and Great Plains through midday Thursday.
"Snow and gusty winds from Ulmer continue from the Colorado Rockies to western South Dakota and much of Wyoming".
FlightAware reports more than 1,000 flights have already been canceled for Wednesday. "So, I'm stuck here with two small children and I don't know when I'll get home", one passenger told CBS Denver. The southern plains and lower Mississippi Valley are next to be impacted by "Heavy rains ... isolated flooding and severe weather will accompany these thunderstorms as they march fairly quickly eastward", the weather service said.
"They typically do get strong systems this time of the year in that part of the country, but this one is may be a notch stronger than what you typically see", said meteorologist Marc Chenard of the weather service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas as local authorities urged residents to hunker down and avoid traveling during the storm if possible.
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