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Computer model simulation of the large, intense storm over the High Plains on March 13. Image: Earth Simulator

A storm is forecast to move out of the Southwest and rapidly intensify over the plains of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas on Wednesday, bringing a wide array of life-threatening weather hazards for a large part of the country.

Why it matters: The storm is likely to intensify at a rate that will qualify it as a meteorological "bomb" — short for bombogenesis, which describes non-tropical storms whose central pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. In fact, this storm is likely to rival some of the most intense weather systems on record in parts of the Plains, as measured by its minimum central air pressure.

In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. While it isn't tropical in origin, this storm could have a minimum central air pressure that's typically found in a Category 2 hurricane.

The big picture: The storm is likely to bring nearly every weather hazard possible at once. In a swath of land from south Texas to eastern Nebraska, a severe thunderstorm outbreak is predicted to take place on Wednesday, which includes the potential for tornadoes. The region at risk for severe thunderstorms will push eastward on Thursday as warm, humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Meanwhile, in the plains of eastern Colorado and parts of Nebraska and Kansas, rain, freezing rain, sleet and heavy snow are forecast as the storm intensifies. Some areas may pick up more than a foot of snow as wind gusts to 70 mph lead to blizzard conditions. The closures of entire interstates, including I-70 in Colorado, are possible.
  • Blizzard warnings have been posted from Colorado (including Denver and Colorado Springs) into southeastern Wyoming, as well as Nebraska and southwest South Dakota.
  • As the storm spins northeastward, it's predicted to bring heavy rain on top of a deep snowpack in the Upper Midwest, with the potential for severe flooding in some areas.
  • Because of the storm's low air pressure, it will generate a huge and powerful wind field as air rushes toward the storm center. High wind watches cover a vast region from South Texas to Iowa, and wind gusts of up to 70 mph are possible in the hardest-hit regions, the National Weather Service warns.

The bottom line: The storm system is going to affect the entirety of the Central states, from the U.S.-Mexico border to the U.S.-Canadian border. It's unusual to see a low pressure area intensify so rapidly over land, since this is more common over the oceans, where the contrast between air masses tends to be sharper along with added potential energy from the oceans.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

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