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Photo: Nebraska National Guard

At least three people have died after a "bomb cyclone" dumped rain on the frozen Plains late last week, causing record flooding from ice jams and snowmelt along the Missouri and Platte rivers. Dams have been virtually obliterated, levees have failed and entire communities marooned.

The latest: Flood warnings remained in place Sunday evening across eastern Nebraska, parts of Iowa and southern Wisconsin. The National Weather Service forecast the areas would be subjected to major flooding possibly until Wednesday. The National Guard warned had earlier told Nebraskans the flooding could last for "quite some time."

Details: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it was the worst flooding in Nebraska for at least 50 years. The National Weather Service warned hazardous flooding would likely last throughout the weekend in the state, as well as in south and west central Iowa. The worst affected area would be around the Platte and Missouri rivers.

The big picture: Throughout Nebraska, rivers were breaking record highs with heavy rain on top of significant snowpack, suddenly thawing ground and a surge of snowmelt traveling from upstream. Ice on rivers were causing ice jams that have exacerbated flooding in some areas.

  • In many areas, rivers are hitting levels that are historically unprecedented, and the old records are being exceeded by several feet, which is an unusually high margin for such milestones.
  • “We’re just smashing some records on the big boys, the Missouri and the Platte,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jeremy Wesely told the Omaha World-Herald.

Details: Nebraska Emergency Management Agency spokesman Mike Wight told Reuters one man died trying to tow a trapped car with his tractor when waters swept him away. Another man who died had failed to evacuate, though authorities have yet to determine the cause of death, he said. Another man was trying to tow a trapped car with his tractor when waters swept him away. A third man died when he became submerged in floodwaters in the town of Riverton, the Fremont County Sheriff's Office said, according to NBC News.

  • Air Force personnel have been trying to contain flooding at Offutt Air Force Base, home to Strategic Command as well as the fleet of E-4B airborne command aircraft and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft.
  • Aerial photos on Saturday showed water lapping up against the base's single runway, with some aircraft still parked on the base. Offutt is now the second major U.S air force base to be hit by a weather-related disaster in less than a year, after Hurricane Michael tore through Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. It said Sunday evening the water had remained at the same level for hours and was not expected to rise.
  • In Fremont, Nebraska, roadways flooded and 2 levees were breached on Saturday morning, according to the Fremont Tribune, requiring mandatory evacuations.
  • There were evacuations along the rising Missouri River and in the town of Brownville, Nebraska.
  • A spokesman for the state's Public Power District told the Omaha World-Herald if the river rises to 45.5 feet, the Cooper Nuclear Power Station — which produces 35 percent of NPPD's power — would be shut down.

Our thought bubble, from Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: These floods are, in parts of Nebraska in particular, worse than longtime residents have experienced and in many cases are downright unprecedented in historical records. This will be a slow-rolling disaster unfolding for the next week as floodwaters move downstream to affect other states in the Mississippi River Valley.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The unprecedented flooding has affected up to 74 million Americans from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast.

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers deployed the state National Guard after declaring an emergency as flooding was magnified by "rapid snowmelt." Columbus, Wisconsin, opened shelters for people who had been evacuated.
  • In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state of emergency for Doniphan County as flash floods wreaked havoc on the community.
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also issued a disaster proclamation on Friday.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper: In photos: Staggering destruction from historic flooding in the Plains

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

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