NWS: Today's 'Historical' Weather Is Highly Dangerous

Unprecedented December storm system roars across central US
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2021 6:50 PM CST
100M Americans Are Under Weather Warnings
The dust from heavy winds obscures the sun in Hodgeman County in Jetmore, Kan., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.   (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Wednesday is a "historical weather day," according to the National Weather Service, with at least 100 million Americans under weather warnings in an area stretching from the West Coast to the Great Lakes. A high wind warning is in place for an area from New Mexico to upper Michigan, where winds of more than 100mph have already caused hazardous travel conditions and widespread power outages, the Washington Post reports. Tornadoes were reported late Wednesday in Nebraska and eastern Iowa. Authorities have also warned of an elevated fire risk along the western edge of the weather system, reports the AP.

The NWS said it had issued its first-ever Extremely Critical Fire Weather Outlook in December for the southern and central plains region. "Dangerous, life-threatening fire weather conditions are likely with fast moving and uncontrollable fire spread due to extreme winds and dry conditions," the agency said. Another December first: a Moderate Risk warning, the fourth-highest on the scale of severe weather in the Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin region. Numerous temperature records in the central US have been broken, some by up to 10 degrees, and dozens more records are expected to fall in the Great Lakes and Northeast areas Thursday.

Forecasters warned that the fast-moving storm system would hit cities including Kansas City, Des Moines, and Minneapolis after dark, increasing the risk of casualties, NBC reports. In some areas at risk of tornadoes, there is up to 8 inches of snow on the ground and meteorologists aren't sure if the snow cover will make tornadoes more likely. Yale Climate Connections meteorologist Jeff Masters tells the AP that record-high ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are "helping feed heat and moisture into today’s storms, increasing their damage potential." (Read more extreme weather stories.)

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