'Massive and possibly historic' winter storm headed this way

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More than 45 million people live in areas under high wind threat. The weather service office in Midland/Odessa, Texas, said Wednesday could be 'the windiest day in years, USA Today reported.

"And yes, that is the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane!"

According to the Weather Channel, the storm "is now going through the process of bombogenesis, dropping from 994 mb Tuesday evening to 969 mb this afternoon".

Hundreds of flights bound for, or departing from, the Denver airport were canceled. Thousands of power outages were reported in the Denver area alone.

The San Juan Mountains, Central Rockies, and parts of the Central to Northern Plains are expecting 12 to 18 inches of snow, with isolated amounts of 2 feet. Hazards include heavy snow and severe storms with possible tornadoes and flooding into Thursday. A blizzard warning is in effect for parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Watches, warnings and advisories for the storm cover about 1.5 million square miles, which is roughly half of the area of the continental USA - and they stretch from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.

The Lower Mississippi Valley and southern Plains will experience thunderstorms with heavy rain and flooding. To be more technically correct, we refer to a storm rapidly gaining strength like this as explosive cyclogenesis.

Almost 1,000 flights coming in and going out of Denver International Airport have been cancelled as of Wednesday morning, according to FlightAware.

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The NWS said Wednesday afternoon there was an 80 miles per hour peak wind gust recorded at the Denver International Airport.

Rivers in Wisconsin are expected to reach flood stage over the next few days as thunderstorms and showers melt away snow that has accumulated this winter.

A 250-mile (402-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rock Springs in southern Wyoming was closed, along with a 300-mile (483-kilometer) section of Interstate 25 from Buffalo, Wyoming, to the Colorado border.

Multiple Colorado school districts, including the Denver Public Schools are closed Wednesday "due to severe weather and road conditions", the district announced Tuesday.

Utah: The Beehive State appears to be on the back end of the storm.

Thunderstorms across portions of the southern Plains will make way for sustained winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour, akin to the strength of a low-end tropical storm. Wind gusts of 50mph to 70mph are expected across Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, while some areas could see hurricane-force gusts of 100mph. Snow is expected to taper off by midday Thursday, but strong winds may persist through the evening.

The storm could also cause flooding, as rain falls on accumulated snow and rivers clogged with ice begin to rise.

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