A powerful winter storm system moving through the central United States could bring up to a foot of snow to areas of the Plains and reach as far east as the Ohio Valley, according to the National Weather Service.
The Weather Channel has named the system winter storm "Q," apparently after the New York City subway line, according to The New York Times. But as whimsical as the name might be, authorities aren't taking winter storm Q lightly.
Winter storm warning were issued from Colorado to Illinois Wednesday as the system dumped snow in the Rockies and moved eastward. According to the Associated Press, hundreds of snow plows and salt spreaders were prepped in St. Louis Wednesday, well in advance of the storm.
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Officials in Nebraska urged residents to stay at home during winter storm Q, warning that winds of up to 25 mph and snow drifts of up to 6 feet could make travel very hazardous.
“We’re encouraging people, if they don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” Mark Meints, emergency management director for Gage County, Neb., said at a press conference Tuesday, the Beatrice Daily Sun notes.
According to NWS forecasts, the greatest impact of the storm will hit central Kansas late Wednesday into Thursday, although the system is expected to continue into Friday as it moves east. AccuWeather forecasted snowfall totaling up to 24 inches for areas of the Plains, with snow and ice spanning a large part of the central U.S.
Accumulations in the vicinity of Wichita were reportedly "several inches more than expected" as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the NWS.
Heavy snowfall isn't the only hazard winter storm Q poses. The Weather Channel predicted a large band of freezing rain and sleet affecting areas "from Oklahoma and Kansas to the Ohio Valley and parts of the East" Wednesday night into Thursday.
The storm, which dumped up to 14 inches of snow in some parts of California, moved into the Four Corners area Wednesday before sweeping into the central Plains. As USA Today notes, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico collided with a cold air mass over the Plains to create the potential for huge snowfall accumulations.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, does not name winter storms, but the Weather Channel adopted a naming convention for them in October 2012. TWC claimed naming winter storms would help raise early awareness of them, thereby increasing preparedness and reducing hazards.
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