A powerful storm will unleash a ferocious mix of snow, rain and wind across the central USA through Thursday.
"While not a tropical system, winds will rival what's seen in a Category 1 hurricane," said weathermodels.com meteorologist Ryan Maue.
The worst weather is forecast for the Plains, from Texas up to the Dakotas. "We expect a major blizzard to unfold with winds likely to approach hurricane force, heavy snow and massive drifts," according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Wednesday, 1-2 feet of snow and howling winds will lash portions of Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, where blizzard warnings are in effect. The National Weather Service warned of "impossible travel conditions."
"You risk becoming stranded if you attempt to travel through these conditions," it said.
A blizzard warning was issued for Denver, where 4-7 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 44 mph are forecast for Wednesday. At Denver International Airport, delays and cancellations will be likely, AccuWeather said.
Wild, destructive winds, gusting more than 100 mph, are forecast in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado, where widespread power outages are possible. Blowing dust will reduce visibility to less than a mile at times. The weather service office in Midland/Odessa, Texas, said Wednesday could be "the windiest day in years."
The storm is unusually potent and "will have an 'eye-like' feature similar to a hurricane," according to Maue.