PLAINS SUPERSTORM 2019: Record low pressure for Colorado & Kansas, 100+mph wind, 52″ of snow in Colorado!

Written by on March 19, 2019 in United States of America with 0 Comments

The extremes of weather found on the US Plains never cease to amaze. This time it’s low pressure. A system which was forced to rapidly deepen thanks to the merging of two powerful jet streams produced a true weather bomb. Something you don’t expect to see in the middle of a continent. This storm could only be described as a ‘land-hurricane’.

At it’s peak back on Wednesday, pressure hit 968mb near Manter, Kansas allowing several all-time record low pressure readings and potentially two new state records for low pressure.

During the late morning hours on Wednesday, March 13, many places in eastern Colorado and western Kansas recorded barometric pressures that are equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane. Some were the lowest ever observed.

Lamar, Colorado – 970.4 mb (potentially a new state record for Colorado)
La Junta, Colorado – 971.2 mb
Stanton, Kansas – 971.87 mb
Hamilton, Kansas – 971.93 mb
Lane, Kansas – 972.42 mb
Lakin, Kansas – 972.45 mb
Leoti, Kansas – 972.77 mb
Grant, Kansas – 973.03 mb
Tribune, Kansas – 973.31
Pueblo, Colorado – 973.9 mb (new record)
Dodge City, Kansas – 974.6 (lowest since 1900)
Goodland, Kansas – 975.2 mb
Colorado Springs, Colorado – 976.1 mb
Denver, Colorado – 979.01 mb (lowest ever measured at DIA)
Alamosa, Colorado – 983.7 mb (new record)

As a consequence of this exceptionally deep ‘bomb cyclone’, winds unsurprisingly blew in excess of hurricane-force quite widely.

Credit: AccuWeather

Denver Intl Airport recorded it’s strongest non-thunderstorm wind gust on record at 80 mph. 2nd only to a 97 mph tornado gust in 2013.

100+mph gusts

Above: Wednesday’s bomb cyclone brought wind gusts as high as 104 mph to New Mexico, where high winds derailed 26 cars from this train, 40 miles north of I-40 and Tucumcari. No one was hurt in the incident. Image credit: New Mexico State Police.

Epic blizzard

The powerful wind field brought severe blizzard conditions on the storm’s north and west sides.

It wasn’t so much the heaviness of the snow but the strength of wind combined with the falling snow which caused havoc for some 1,000 miles of the open Plains.

There was MANY miles of highway closed.

Another Superstorm? How the 2019 Bomb Cyclone Compared to the March 1993 Superstorm

Linda Lam
Published: March 15, 2019

Note that there was a gust up to 144 mph measured on Mount Washington during Superstorm 1993.

The central U.S. was slammed by a powerful bomb cyclone, Winter Storm Ulmer, bringing to mind similarities to other intense systems, including the March 1993 Superstorm.

Both storms resulted in awe-inspiring, memorable moments and developed in mid-March, a time of year where winter and spring often can clash.

As it turned out, the bomb cyclone intensified 26 years to the date of the infamous March 1993 Superstorm.

The 1993 Superstorm was an incredible, wide-reaching storm that saw its central pressure drop to 960 millibars when it was moving through New England. Impacts stretched from Cuba and the South into the Northeast and Canada.

Winter Storm Ulmer underwent bombogenesis and saw its central pressure drop to 968 millibars in the Plains. Ulmer brought impacts from the Southwest and southern Plains to the northern Plains and Midwest.

When central pressures plunge into the 960s, very strong, damaging winds result and this was the case in both of these power storms.

Wind gusts during the 1993 Superstorm reached 109 mph in Dry Tortugas, Florida, and the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire, measured a wind gust of 144 mph. The New York City area saw gusts up to 71 mph, while Boston recorded a gust to 81 mph.

Winter Storm Ulmer produced a wind gust up to 104 mph in San Augustin Pass, Texas, and gusts over 85 mph were measured as far north as western Nebraska.

Both of these storms dumped heavy snowfall in many locations which created blizzard conditions when combined with the fierce winds. Six states saw locations reach blizzard criteria during Ulmer, including Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

During Ulmer, Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado, reported 52 inches of snowfall, with several spots from New Mexico to Wyoming measuring at least two feet.

The top snowfall total from the 1993 Superstorm was an incredible 60 inches on Mount LeConte, Tennessee and at least 10 inches of snow was reported in a huge swath from central Alabama to Maine. Snow even fell as far south as the Florida Panhandle.

Both of these intense systems produced not just wintry weather, but also flooding and severe weather.

Superstorm 1993 caused coastal flooding from parts of the Gulf of Mexico coast to the Northeast coast. In Taylor County, Florida, a hurricane-like 12-foot storm surge was observed and 200 homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks were damaged.

Milder temperatures surged northward ahead of Winter Storm Ulmer which caused snow that was already on the ground to melt and for ice on rivers to break up. In addition, parts of the Plains and Midwest that have recently seen snow saw precipitation fall in the form of rain. This rainfall combined with the snow and ice melt caused severe flooding.

As of the morning of March 15, more than 20 locations have seen record high crests, and historic flooding was ongoing in parts of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Unsurprisingly, with a low-pressure system as strong as both of these, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes also formed.

Both systems produced a derecho, which are large clusters of thunderstorms that produce widespread straight-line wind damage for at least 250 miles in length. To be classified as a derecho there also must be wind gusts of at least 58 mph along most of the storms’ path and several well-separated wind gusts of 75 mph or greater.

The 1993 Superstorm resulted in a massive derecho that moved across Florida and into Cuba. During Winter Storm Ulmer, the derecho criteria was met with thunderstorms that raced across Texas.

Supercell thunderstorms spawned 11 tornadoes in Florida during the 1993 Superstorm, and there were more than 20 reports of tornadoes in parts of the Midwest, South and in Texas and New Mexico as Ulmer tracked across the Lower 48.

Given the impressive events associated with both the 1993 Superstorm and Winter Storm Ulmer, it is easy to see why many would draw a comparison between these two memorable storms.

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