A potent storm slammed the central United States on Thursday, bringing a ferocious mix of wild weather from blizzard conditions to flash floods.
Schools, universities and businesses were closed Thursday in several states as travel proved difficult if not impossible. More than 130,000 customers were without power in Michigan due to the storm, according to poweroutage.us.
At least five people have been killed. Four died in traffic accidents on snowy or icy roads in the central United States over the past few days and a student died in Seattle after slipping on the ice. Earlier in the week, the storm brought heavy snow and ice to portions of the West Coast, including the Seattle and San Francisco areas.
As of midday Thursday, the National Weather Service reported that more than 20 million people were threatened by winter weather, while another 25 million were bracing for flooding.
The steadiest snow Thursday fell from Minnesota through Wisconsin and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, AccuWeather said. Blizzard warnings were in effect in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan.
Up to 16 inches of snow was possible in some areas, AccuWeather said.
A narrow corridor of freezing rain was also reported Thursday, from parts of central Missouri into northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, the Weather Channel said.
Freezing rain had accumulated up to a half-inch thick in the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Pleasant Hill.
The Weather Channel has named the storm Winter Storm Lucian. No other private weather company nor the National Weather Service uses this name.
Further south, heavy rain, thunderstorms, and flooding were the main concerns. Moderate-to-heavy rain fell Thursday from Arkansas and southern Missouri into Kentucky, southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, prompting flood watches and warnings.
Some of the thunderstorms were forecast to reach severe levels in portions of Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, the Storm Prediction Center said.
After the storm moves away, bitter cold will return, the Weather Service predicted: Highs will be held below zero degrees in the northern Plains and in the single digits and teens in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes states by Friday.
More: Slow-moving Arctic front could bring heavy snow from South Dakota to Upper Michigan
Wind-chill readings will drop to 55 below zero in North Dakota. Frostbite can occur in as little as five to ten minutes at that level of wind chill.
The brief fling with spring will come to a crashing halt for most of the rest of the eastern United States over the next couple of days. On Friday, temperatures from Texas to Ohio will be 25 to 40 degrees lower than they were Thursday.
Temperatures will be 20 to 25 degrees lower Saturday than Friday along the East Coast.
Over the weekend, a new winter storm will dump snow across the Pacific Northwest.
Contributing: The Associated Press