Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Computer model projection showing a major storm in the central U.S. on April 11. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

A rapidly intensifying storm is sending temperatures plummeting by more than 40°F across the western and central Plains on Wednesday, spawning an April blizzard that could dump more than 2 feet of snow in some areas.

Why it matters: This storm will paralyze a huge area of real estate and potentially set up beleaguered states such as Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, among others, for more flooding in coming days. It could also set records for snowfall — with the potential for as much as 30 or more inches in parts of the Midwest — and for the lowest atmospheric pressure reading observed during the month of April in particular states.

The air pressure reading is significant because the lower the air pressure, the stronger the storm. Remarkably, this bomb cyclone, so named because of its rapid rate of intensification, is following on the heels of another such storm that struck the same general region last month.

That event led to billions of dollars of damage, mainly due to widespread flooding that overran a major U.S. Air Force Base outside of Omaha.

Details: Wednesday's storm is spreading a smorgasbord of weather hazards, from flash flooding and severe thunderstorms to blizzard conditions, from Colorado to Minnesota and southward to the Gulf Coast. At its peak intensity late Wednesday into Thursday, winds could whip above 60 mph across multiple states from the Great Basin to the Upper Midwest.

  • In some areas, whiteout conditions will render travel impossible, with the National Weather Service warning of life-threatening travel conditions as the storm intensifies rapidly. Heavy, wet snow plus high winds could create long-lasting power outages as well.
  • The heaviest snow looks to fall in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, where 24–30 inches is possible, according to the NWS.
  • Some states, like Nebraska, could see severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, icing and blizzard conditions at the same time. Thundersnow has already been observed in South Dakota as the storm gets underway there.
  • Blizzard warnings are in effect for 6 states, and whiteout conditions could shut portions of interstates 70, 80 and 90, as snow drifts pile up several feet high.
  • April snowfall records and possibly even all-time snowfall milestones could be set in parts of the Plains.

Between the lines: It's not unusual to see powerful low pressure systems erupt in the central U.S. during April, given the clash between winter and spring air masses at this time of year.

  • However, a low pressure area that intensifies at least 24 millibars within 24 hours, occurring so soon after a similar storm broke low pressure records, is noteworthy, though is not assured in this case.
  • This event is forecast to be about 3–4 standard deviations below average, when it comes to surface pressure, which is indicative of a particularly powerful storm. It's conceivable that an April low pressure record will be set in Kansas as the low pressure center pinwheels across that state.

What's next: The big concern after this storm departs will be the snowmelt from whatever snowpack it deposits, as well as any rain water runoff that could send already high rivers and streams back over their banks.

The NWS has already warned of the likelihood for a potentially devastating spring flood season in the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley, and this storm is the type of event that forecasters have feared.

Be smart: Although the blizzard conditions will only hit a select few states, millions will be affected by this storm as it will kick up strong winds and raise wildfire risks from the Southwest to the Great Lakes.

Air travel at multiple hubs, including Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis and even Dallas, is likely to be hit with weather-related delays related to either heavy snow, strong winds, thunderstorms or a combination of these threats through early Thursday.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.