ENVIRONMENT

‘Bomb Cyclone’ Triggers Biblical Flooding In Midwest

More than 10 million people were reportedly under flood warnings Friday.

As students around the country participated in a global strike Friday to demand action on climate change, a powerful “bomb cyclone” ripped through the Midwest, bringing extreme flooding to parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service in Omaha issued a flash flood emergency order early Friday for areas west of Omaha after a dike on the Platte River in the town of Valley, Nebraska, failed.

“SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!” NWS wrote before having to evacuate its office. “This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.”

The Platte River near Leshara swelled to a record 12.63 feet on Friday, topping the previous high of 11.84 feet set in 1996. In the town of Plattsmouth, south of Omaha, the Missouri River reached a record 37.15 feet, breaking the previous high of 36.73 feet in 2011.

Several levees reportedly failed and thousands were forced to evacuate across the state.

The flooding killed at least one person and left another missing, The Omaha World-Herald reports. Several firefighters were injured Thursday when their boat capsized during an attempted rescue near the town of Arlington, according to the paper.

As the Missouri River rose, a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska declared a “Notification of Unusual Event” early Friday, a precautionary low-level alert, and said it would would continue to monitor the the water level.

The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang reports that more than 10 million people across the Midwest, from Nebraska to Wisconsin, were under flood warnings Friday. 

The heavy rains and flooding came after a powerful winter storm battered Colorado, Wyoming and other central states with blizzard conditions and strong winds earlier in the week. Several tornadoes touched down in Kentucky and Indiana. 

The National Weather Service called it “a Great Plains cyclone of historic proportions.” Two people, a Colorado state trooper and a utility worker in Texas, were killed Wednesday in the storm, USA Today reported

The monster low-pressure system was fueled by warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with cold air from the north. Michael Mann, climate scientist at Penn State University, told HuffPost there is evidence that climate change is increasing the conditions that support development of more intense bomb cyclones.

“Despite the antics of climate change-denying politicians ... the increased snowfall amounts associated with record-strength Nor’easters (and ‘bomb cyclones’) is symptomatic of, rather than evidence against, human-caused planetary warming,” he wrote in an email. 

  • The rising waters of the Elkhorn River south of Arlington, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, floods cabins. Evacuations for
    Nati Harnik/AP
    The rising waters of the Elkhorn River south of Arlington, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, floods cabins. Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities.
  • The swollen Pecatonica River spills into downtown Darlington, Wisconsin, on Thursday March 14, 2019. The National Weather Ser
    Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP
    The swollen Pecatonica River spills into downtown Darlington, Wisconsin, on Thursday March 14, 2019. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning or flood watch for about two-thirds of the state.
  • Thick ice slabs litter yards and roads in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte River flo
    Nati Harnik/AP
    Thick ice slabs litter yards and roads in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte River flooded its banks. Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities.
  • Thick slabs of ice slabs surround a structure in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte Ri
    Nati Harnik/AP
    Thick slabs of ice slabs surround a structure in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte River flooded its banks. Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities.
  • Jim Freeman tries to saw through thick ice slabs on his property in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ic
    Nati Harnik/AP
    Jim Freeman tries to saw through thick ice slabs on his property in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte River flooded its banks. Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities.
  • An ice jam built up on the Des Moines River at Ottumwa, Iowa, on Monday, March 12, 2019, and the damage was still evident a d
    Matt Milner/The Ottumwa Courier/AP
    An ice jam built up on the Des Moines River at Ottumwa, Iowa, on Monday, March 12, 2019, and the damage was still evident a day later. The jam caused the river to flood a campground on the city's west side. Forecasters had warned of the possibility of flooding as rain and warming temperatures cause significant rises in Iowa creeks and rivers.
  • A man works his way through a flooded Galena Street as the Pecatonica River continues to rise in Darlington, Wisconsin, Thurs
    Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP
    A man works his way through a flooded Galena Street as the Pecatonica River continues to rise in Darlington, Wisconsin, Thursday, March 14, 2019. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning or flood watch for about two-thirds of the state.
  • Chad Freeman works to clear thick ice slabs from his property in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-c
    Nati Harnik/AP
    Chad Freeman works to clear thick ice slabs from his property in Fremont, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the ice-covered Platte River flooded its banks. Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities.
  • Men with the Nebraska Department of Roads monitor flooded highway 92, as the Cottonwood and Wahoo creeks overflow their banks
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Men with the Nebraska Department of Roads monitor flooded highway 92, as the Cottonwood and Wahoo creeks overflow their banks, in Wahoo, Nebraska, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Forecasters say major flooding is likely in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa over the next couple days and some rural roads already had to be closed after being covered with water. The National Weather Service says this week's significant rain is especially problematic because much of the region is still covered by a blanket of snow and the ground is still frozen, so the rail flows right into streams and rivers. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
  • A painted bicycle sits in flood water in Waterloo, Neb., Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Forecasters say major flooding is likely
    Nati Harnik/AP
    A painted bicycle sits in flood water in Waterloo, Neb., Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Forecasters say major flooding is likely in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa over the next couple days and some rural roads already had to be closed after being covered with water. The National Weather Service says this week's significant rain is especially problematic because much of the region is still covered by a blanket of snow and the ground is still frozen, so the rail flows right into streams and rivers.
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