Four weeks after a “bomb cyclone” weather system slammed into Nebraska and surrounding states, another monster storm is right around the corner.
Meteorologists say a bomb cyclone is expected to hit this week and stretch from Wyoming to Wisconsin. The hardest hit areas are expected to stretch from north central Nebraska through South Dakota and into southern Minnesota. More than a foot of snow could fall in some areas, accompanied by ice and heavy winds.
Brad Rippey, a meteorologist at the Department of Agriculture, says flood gauges in the upper Midwest are experiencing moderate to major flooding already with more precipitation on the way.
“That’s 200 total river gauges across the U.S. — almost all of them in the Mississippi (River) valley or the Missouri (River) valley — experiencing flooding of some degree before this storm hits,” he said, “and we’re going to be dumping all of this wet snow and some rain across some of these hardest affected regions.”
While there are areas of overlap between this storm and the previous weather event in March, most of the heaviest snow is expected to fall north of the last storm’s path.
Another storm would have impacts both on American agriculture production and policy.
Livestock losses could be boosted by poor calving conditions brought about by the storm, including icy conditions, heavy snow, and flooding. Heavy precipitation could also delay producers getting into their fields for spring planting or reduce available acreage in the upper Midwest's Prairie Pothole region by expanding wetlands.
The storm comes during a Capitol Hill stalemate over just how to provide funding for a string of disasters across the country. Last week, the Senate was unable to pass a disaster assistance bill that would have provided funding for the cleanup in Nebraska and Iowa as well as Southeastern areas hit by hurricanes in 2018. But the bill, which also would address damages from 2018 wildfires in California, stalled over a disagreement over just how much assistance should go to the island of Puerto Rico.
Last month, a combination of rain and snow caused widespread damage in Iowa and Nebraska, including lost livestock and destroyed grain storage. While USDA has programs to address livestock losses, no such program is in place to compensate for the loss of stored grain.
"Right now, the cleanest thing is for Congress to add provisions" in its current disaster assistance bill, USDA farm program undersecretary Bill Northey told reporters Monday.
Rippey says the storm will hit on Wednesday and Thursday before hitting the Great Lakes region on Friday.
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