'Bomb cyclone' winter storm moves east after punishing Colorado in US

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Evacuations forced by flooding have occurred in several eastern Nebraska communities, as western Nebraska residents struggled with blizzardlike conditions.

Numerous homes in Freeman's neighborhood in Fremont, Nebraska, were inundated by the water that flowed in from the Platte River.

"Photos are the important things", she said. No one was injured, New Mexico State Police said. The Red Cross opened shelters in Sioux Falls and Yankton.

Nebraska has also been hammered by high water. Heavy rain caused flooding in eastern parts of both states, as well as in Iowa.

A disaster proclamation by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, issued in response to reports of flooding, remained in effect in Iowa overnight. The flooding was the worst in almost a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly in many places over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls.

The storm gained "bomb cyclogenesis" or "bombogenesis" status after its air pressure dropped precipitously within 24 hours, causing wind gusts of almost 100 mph while simultaneously dropping several inches of snow and rain, said Paul Huttner, chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. As of March 12, the storm has recorded a 78-mph wind gust in Dallas and an unofficial record for lowest pressure at 975 millibars in Pueblo, Colorado.

A blizzard of "historic proportions" that hit the U.S. Rocky Mountain and Plains states this week was moving eastward on Thursday as it weakened, hurling hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and heavy rain on its way, weather officials said. Some may have no power into the weekend.

In the Texas Panhandle, a utility worker was killed Wednesday while working to restore power amid strong winds pushed in by the storm. Most of these outages are in Colorado and Texas.

The Colorado State Patrol said one of its troopers, 52-year-old Corporal Daniel Groves, was killed northeast of Denver when a auto veered out of control and struck him as he was helping the victims of another vehicle accident.

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National Guard troops used specialized vehicles with tank-like treads to rescue stranded drivers. The total number of people rescued statewide is likely higher, as local law enforcement ran separate rescue efforts.

Jackie Ratcliff stayed in a hotel and on Thursday was waiting in Wellington, Colorado, for Interstate 25 to reopen so she could return to her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. On the roads, parts of Interstates 25 and 70 were shutdown by crashes, stranding hundreds of drivers.

"I'm feeling pretty lucky", she said, despite her dog at home needing to be fed.

A tornado in New Mexico sheared roofs off buildings in the small town of Dexter, about 200 miles southwest of Albuquerque.

Thirteen tornados were reported Thursday in Kentucky, Indiana and MI, said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, but no immediate reports of serious damage.

"This is a very epic cyclone", said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center.

It was caused by a combination of the jet stream and normal conditions in the wind shadow of the Rockies.

Winter Storm Ulmer is still hammering the Plains with snow, high winds and blizzard conditions on Thursday after killing at least two as the storm became a bomb cyclone.

Nicholson reported from Bismarck, North Dakota.

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