60 million Americans were under winter weather warnings, watches and advisories in the 750,000 square miles affected.
It's snow season in America, and although the East Coast has been hogging all the weather-attention this year, the Midwest put Blizzard Nemo to shame on Thursday. It's not so much that the storm system moving through the central United States dumped more snow on the ground. This week's storm simply dumped snow on more ground, affecting 20 states over the course of an hour. CNN put the scope of the storm in startling terms, "About 60 million people -- 20 percent of the U.S. population -- were under winter weather warnings, watches and advisories in the 750,000 square miles affected." And yes, there was thundersnow. It even snowed in the middle of the Arizona desert.
The real challenge of this week's Midwest wallop is that many of the states affected, like Missouri and Kansas, aren't accustomed to getting big snow storms. A month ago it was in the 70s in Kansas City. Nowhere was hit harder than the highways, where the snow accumulated so quickly that the cars couldn't get to safety quick enough. This left cars sliding into snow drifts and trucks jackknifed and helpless on the highway. Kansas actually closed a 240-mile stretch of the Interstate and dispatched two dozen National Guard soldiers to search for travelers stranded in the mayhem. "If you don't have to travel, don't do it," said the state's governor, Sam Brownback. He reiterated, "If you don't have to get out, just really, please, don't do it." Nevertheless at least two deaths attributed to storm has been reported, both from car accidents.
The good news is that snow is precipitation, which the plains states desperately need. The region's been struggling with droughts for what seems like years now — global warming, ahem — and several inches of snow melt amounts to some much appreciated respite. "We can get excited about it," one farmer told The New York Times. "But we're going to have to have more moisture, however it comes."
All images courtesy of Reuters.
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.