- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2019

The late winter “bomb cyclone” that stunned more than 25 states with snow, rain and wind has caused flooding that is threatening the operational safety of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska.

The Cooper Nuclear Station along the swollen Missouri River will likely be shut down early Saturday as water levels continue rising following heavy rain earlier this week, a plant spokesman said Friday.

The plant is in Brownville, about 60 miles south of Omaha, and is already functioning under emergency circumstances. If the Missouri River reaches 45.5 feet — which would threaten the levee protecting the plant — workers will pull the fuel rods that generate power, said Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker, who added that there was no danger to the public.

The historic low-pressure system, which affected more than 105 million people this week according to the National Weather Service, continued moving east. It is expected to dump rain and thunder into Sunday, national forecasters predicted.

Flooding remained a concern in the lower Missouri River region — which is a major source for the Mississippi River — with the weather service issuing warnings of high water along the river and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard shut down all traffic on the Missouri River from about 50 miles south of Omaha, downstream to St. Joseph, Missouri, a stretch of about 70 miles. The Coast Guard also requested all river-vessel operators create as little wake as possible between St. Joseph downstream to Kansas City to minimize levee damage.

High water also pushed waterways to record levels across South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The flooding was the worst in nearly a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls.

The storm gained “bomb cyclogenesis” or “bombogenesis” status earlier in the week after its air pressure dropped precipitously within 24 hours, causing wind gusts of nearly 100 mph while simultaneously dropping several inches of snow and rain. In Colorado, it caused one death when State Police Cpl. Daniel Groves was struck during a roadside accident earlier.

In areas near Fargo, North Dakota, no travel was advised, as heavy snow and poor visibility prompted the closure of two interstates.

In mid-Michigan, authorities reported two tornadoes and possibly a third, in Shiawassee County and nearby Genesee County. Homes were reported damaged, while power was knocked out to thousands.

Lower Michigan also saw severe thunderstorm warnings, watches, flooding, high winds and hail as the storm trekked across the Midwest.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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