Rockies and western Plains hit with heavy snow and blizzard conditions

(CNN) — The Rocky Mountains and western Plains were hit with heavy snow and blizzard conditions from a powerful storm system that earlier unleashed violent tornadoes in Texas.

More than 7 million Americans were under winter weather alerts and about 300,000 were under blizzard warnings Sunday morning.

The snow and blizzard conditions were expected to continue through early Sunday afternoon before conditions start to improve. The blizzard warning has been extended into Colorado along the Front Range, and includes Denver, according to the National Weather Service.

In addition to the heavy snow, winds are very strong in the region, with sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph and gusts 45 to 50 mph. These winds are leading to blizzard conditions in some locations but are also forecast to weaken through the afternoon.

The heaviest snowfall is expected from areas northwest of Boulder, Colorado, to areas near Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming.

By Sunday afternoon, Denver International Airport had measured 19.1 inches of snow with more expected. This makes the period from March 13-14, 2021, as the second snowiest on record for the month of March, said CNN meteorologist Gene Norman.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, had measured 25.8 inches of snow by Sunday afternoon, which sets a new two-day snowfall total, he said. The prior record of 25.2 inches was set in November 1979.

Boulder has picked up about 8 to 12 inches of snow, and the town of Estes Park has had just over a foot. Snow continues to fall and the region is under a blizzard warning through midnight.

Areas north of Boulder could see more than 2 feet of snow, CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said earlier.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said there is a “high” avalanche threat for the Front Range until Monday morning. Heavy and intense snowfall from the current storm will cause large and destructive avalanches at all elevation levels, above and below the tree line, and in “unusual locations,” according to the center.

The National Weather Service in Boulder reported moderate to heavy snow and poor travel conditions early Sunday from north of Denver to the Wyoming border.

The blowing snow and poor visibility shut down runways at Denver International Airport, and more than 2,000 flights into and out of Denver this weekend have been canceled. Across Colorado, several major roads are closed, including two stretches of interstates.

Leadville, Colorado, reported more than 10 inches of snow early Sunday while the town of Sawpit also saw nearly 10 inches of snow, according to snowfall totals posted by the National Weather Service.

The snow, coupled with high winds, could mean that parts of Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota will see blizzard conditions, making travel in those areas next to impossible, according to Mauldin.

Uinta County, Wyoming, could see snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet, the weather service from Salt Lake City projected. The weather service in Cheyenne reported its office received more than 8 inches of snow Saturday.

A winter storm warning was in effect through 6 p.m. Sunday for the western Uinta Mountains and Uinta County, Wyoming, the weather service said.

Southeast could see flood concerns

Meanwhile, flood watches and warnings were in effect for areas of Kansas and Missouri, while heavy rain was impacting parts of Nebraska and Iowa.

“Be on lookout for localized flooding of typical flood-prone areas,” the weather service in Wichita, Kansas, wrote on Twitter.

As the storm system moves east over the next day or two, the Southeast could also face flood concerns.

Parts of Alabama and Georgia could see between 2 and 4 inches of rain Monday and Tuesday.

The weather service in Atlanta warned “multiple rounds” of rain and storms were expected Monday through Thursday with rainfall totals hitting 2-3 inches.

Tornado damage reported in Texas

In Texas, Randall County Sheriff Christopher Forbis warned Saturday evening of multiple downed power lines and baseball-sized hail soon after the National Weather Service in Amarillo reported two simultaneous tornadoes in the area.

Saturday night, the sheriff said parts of the county had seen “extensive tornado damage” but no injuries had been reported.

There were 40 preliminary severe storm reports on Saturday, 11 of which were tornadoes, according to Mauldin.

Severe weather threats shifted to Arkansas on Sunday, where showers and strong thunderstorms were forecast throughout the afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service in Little Rock.

“Damaging winds will remain the primary threat, but an isolated tornado cannot be completely ruled out,” the service said early Sunday.

Tornado potential was very low, officials said. Wind speeds could reach up to 60 mph, according to the service, while parts of the state may see up to quarter-sized hail.

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