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Colorado State Patrol warned motorists to drive safely in the snowy conditions. Photo: Colorado State Patrol

A ferocious and sprawling spring storm is dumping heavy snowfall on the central U.S., leading to paralyzing blizzard conditions from northeastern Colorado into extreme southwestern Minnesota.

Why it matters: This is the second intense, large storm to strike the central U.S. in a month. The first one, which qualified as a bomb cyclone due to its rapid intensification, led to at least $4 billion in damage, mainly from widespread flooding. One major concern centers on what happens after the storm abates, as the new snow cover will melt in an already flood-ravaged region.

  • The National Weather Service expects records to be set for snowfall and for the lowest atmospheric pressure reading observed during the month of April in particular states. The agency is also warning of major flooding to follow the storm as the new snow cover melts into already swollen rivers.

The latest: The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for 6 states as the storm peaks on Thursday. "Farther south, destructive winds, blowing dust and critical fire weather continues for the southern Plains," the National Weather Service said. "Severe thunderstorms will threaten eastern Illinois and western Indiana Thursday."

Numerous major interstates have been closed due to blinding snowfall whipped up by 40–50 mph winds.

Illustrating the storm's reach, yellow or brown-tinted snow has been falling in Minnesota due to dust entrained into the storm from its southwest flank in Texas and New Mexico.

  • Among the hardest hit regions is South Dakota, where there have been power outages and roads closed. Snowfall accumulations there have already topped 18 inches.
  • Thundersnow has been observed in South Dakota and Nebraska, which indicates the storm's potency.
  • Some states, like Minnesota, may see several precipitation types at once, from rain in the southeastern part of the state to hail in severe thunderstorms, as well as sleet and snow in Minneapolis and wind-driven snow in the west.
  • In Colorado, a 150-mile-long stretch of Interstate 76 was closed from northeast of Denver to the Nebraska border, according to AP.
  • To the southeast of the low-pressure area, in the storm's so-called "warm sector," severe thunderstorms are occurring, with the chance of a few tornadoes on Thursday.

Go deeper: "Potentially historic" storm slams hard-hit Plains, Midwest

Go deeper

Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

Inside Patch's new local newsletter platform

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) local digital news company, has built a new software platform called "Patch Labs" that lets local news reporters publish their own newsletters and websites, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It follows a growing trend of journalists going solo via newsletters at the national level.

Scoop: Politico stars plot new Playbook

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three of Politico’s biggest reporting stars plan to launch a competitor to the company’s Politico Playbook franchise, sources tell me. 

Why it matters:  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan will launch a daily newsletter in 2021 as a stand-alone company, the sources say. In effect, they will be competing against the Playbook franchise they helped create and grow.