A massive, late-winter storm has blanketed parts of the US, with the National Guard being called in to help rescue stranded drivers in Colorado.
As the storm moves across the country, forecasters are expecting large amounts of rainfall and snow across the country’s Midwest region on Thursday March 14th.
The storm hit the Colorado area on Wednesday March 13th, and knocked out power supplies to several areas, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and overwhelmed drivers with blinding snow. One wind gust was measured at 156kph in Colorado Springs.
One person has died in the inclement weather so far, Corporal Daniel Groves, a Colorado state patrol officer. He was assisting the driver of a vehicle who had slid off the road when he was struck by another vehicle near Denver.
"It is a tragic reminder that people's lives are at stake," said Shoshana Lew, head of the Colorado department of transportation. "The best place to be is at home and off the roads."
Lew went on to issue an additional warning to drivers, saying that conditions would remain dangerous until at least Thursday March 14th.
According to AP, there were about 200 cars that were disabled on the major road, the Interstate 25 near Colorado Springs. The number was even higher on secondary roads, with rescue teams being dispatched to assist multiple drivers who had become stranded in the snow.
The latest storm to strike the US has resulted in blizzards, flooding and even a tornado. The adverse weather conditions have stretched across more than 25 states, from the northern Rocky Mountains to Texas and beyond.
The storm was created when a sudden and massive drop in ground-level air pressure occurred in Colorado. Data indicated that it was the most pronounced dive in pressure since the 1950s, said Greg Carbin, the chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather prediction centre.
The drop was the result of a combination of the jet stream and normal conditions in the wind shadow of the Rockies. As a result, air rushed into the low-pressure area and then rose into the atmosphere.
"It is like a vacuum cleaner, really," said Carbin.
“When that much air rushes higher into the atmosphere, it causes severe weather.”
Meteorologists have a special name for such a rapid change in pressure, they call it a "bomb cyclone" or "bombogenesis."