• Power outages can be widespread due to powerful winds that could bring down power lines and trees.
  • As of Wednesday midday, high winds were affecting approximately 36 million households.
  • A chance exists for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms to develop Wednesday evening and Wednesday morning.

A wild weather day was underway Wednesday across the central U.S., with howling winds, severe storms, tornadoes and even wildfires slamming the region. 

These are the effects of powerful winds. According to the National Weather Service, trees can be blown over power lines and they could cause widespread blackouts. The winds will also be strong enough to kick up dust and raise the risk of wildfire ignition and rapid spread in some areas, AccuWeather said.

Portions of Oklahoma’s panhandle were evacuated Wednesday afternoon as crews battled wildfires, and parts of Texas’ panhandle saw at least four active wildfires accelerated by the strong winds. 

The Weather Service has issued a high wind warning along a swath stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan – including Wisconsin and Illinois – with sustained winds between 25 mph and 40 mph expected.Additionally, severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.

Iowa has already seen multiple tornadoes. As of Wednesday midday, high winds were warning people for 36 million. Several airlines later decided not to chance landings at the Des Moines International Airport, as an epic line of thunderstorms approached from the west.

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Multiple highways closed down in Kansas, where high winds and dust storms caused brownout conditions and reduced road visibility. In some places, winds reached 100 mph. Semitrailers were also toppled by the wind.

And almost 90,000 Kansas homes and businesses served by Evergy, the state’s largest electrical company, were without power as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the company reported on an online outage map it maintains.

Already Wednesday, a gust of 107 mph was reported in Lamar, Colorado. The Colorado Springs Fire Department posted on Twitter that they had received 635 calls for service within five hours — including one about the roof being blown off their own headquarters.

A Weather Service forecast office in Nebraska warned that “travel will be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles. Trucks could be damaged or blown away. Decorations for the holidays may get damaged or destroyed.

In-person classes were cancelled at some Nebraska schools, while many schools across Iowa closed early Wednesday due to bad weather. The storm threat forced Iowa State University, Ames (Iowa), to close at noon. 

At this time of year officers in Iowa are used to warning people to stay off the roads because of snowstorms, not thunderstorms, said Polk County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Evans. 

Evans commented, “It’s very strange.” We are 10 days away from Christmas, and it is 70 degrees and windy with near hurricane force winds.

Allan Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, said Wednesday’s storm line would “raise eyebrows” even if it happened in the summer, he said. 

“We don’t have a lot to compare it to,” Curtis said. “It’s really one of a kind for this state or this area for this time of year.”

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The national weather warning map as of midday Wednesday showed high wind warnings (in brown) stretching from New Mexico to Michigan.

Denver International Airport had over 100 flight cancellations and 288 delays due to the high winds.

The Storm Prediction Center stated that there is a chance of severe storms and tornadoes on Wednesday night.  Spreading damaging wind gusts up to 80+ mph are probable, along with a few strong tornadoes. 

A tornado watch was in effect for portions of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.

According to the Weather Service, daily high temperatures are expected to rise up over 30° above normal on Wednesday in both the Plains of Mississippi Valley. The Weather Service stated that Wednesday will see more than 50 new daily records for high temperatures, with spring-like highs of 50 to 70 degrees in the forecast.

Ottumwa (Iowa) reached 75 degrees Wednesday. It was a record-breaking state high for December. 

The weather across the central states followed a powerful storm on Monday and Tuesday that socked drought-stricken California with heavy rain at lower levels and up to 6 feet of snow at some higher elevations.

Contributing to the Associated Press; The Des Moines Register. The Tokepa Capital Journal. The Oklahoman. Amarillo Globe–News.

Source: USAToday.com


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