Hurricane-force winds across Wyoming halted Union Pacific trains on Wednesday. A wind record set in 2014 fell at Billings Logan International Airport in Montana.
The winds will not give way on Thursday.
Powerful gusts projected to reach 70 mph are in reserve from Colorado, Idaho and Montana to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska and Utah, according to the National Weather Service, causing wind warnings through Friday. .
The same combinations of high and low pressure contributing to these winds were responsible for a powerful storm Wednesday in the Pacific Northwest. With an atmospheric river bringing 10 inches of rain to Washington and Oregon, this storm left traces of damage – killing one person and causing a freeway to close after a landslide.
More than 300,000 people were still without power in Oregon and Washington as of Wednesday evening, and the NWS warned of a continued risk of landslides in the region.
In Wyoming, the Cheyenne NWS reported a 105 mph gust near FE Warren Air Force Base and 16 other gusts of 80 mph or more in the past 12 hours.
The winds were so strong that Union Pacific stopped trains between North Platte, Nebraska and Green River, Wyoming, “until it was safe to resume service.” according to a statement on its website.
In Montana, the Billings NWS reported a gust of 68 mph at the airport, breaking a record set the same day seven years ago. “January 13 is officially #WindDay in Billings” the weather service said on Twitter.
Damaging winds of 60 mph or more are common in Montana and Wyoming, but are not particularly common in the Rocky Mountains, said Dave Bowers, senior meteorologist for Accuweather.
As the weekend approaches, drivers need to be careful while driving vehicles, Bowers said, adding that locals should also tie up lightweight outdoor items such as trash cans.
Thursday’s winds will also present a fire hazard in parts of New Mexico, southern California and western Texas, due to a combination of windy conditions and heat. Some gusts could exceed 50 mph in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the weather service said.
Meanwhile, a developing storm is expected to bring considerable snowfall to Minnesota on Thursday and Friday, with up to 12 inches expected in Duluth, Bowers said. Windy conditions in the upper Midwest are likely to cause nearby blizzard conditions.
The polar vortex is about to separate againand it could bring a “ big ” winter storm by MLK Day
Contribute: The Associated Press