A powerful storm system that swept in across the west coastof the United States on Thursday left 5 deaths in its wakeas it crossed the Midwest. It is now strengthening andthreatens the Northeast with some very heavy weather.Another, similar system is building off the Pacific coastand could pack an equal punch next week.

So far, April of 2007 has been the coldest in 113 years,meaning that conditions are right for extreme weather eventsin the United States, as unusually cold arctic air collideswith unusually warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and theAtlantic, which is being drawn up along advancing frontalboundaries.

This is the third time this year that a massive storm systemhas developed and crossed the entire US while growing moreand more organized. The first of these storms, in October,did not completely falter until it reached Eastern Europe.

This is unusual for winter storms, but not unprecedented,but for there to be so many large, long-lived storms in asingle season is not common. Unfortunately, records of thetrack and duration of winter storms outside of continentalboundaries are not kept at this time.

As driving snowstorms crossed Kansas, tornadoes swept Texasand Louisiana yesterday and last night. At least 5 deathsare being attributed to the storm, and property damage andcrop damage estimates are not yet known, but they are likelyto be high, especially crop damage.

Later today, tonight and tomorrow, the storm is expected tostrengthen, possibly dramatically, as it crosses theNortheast, gaining power from unusually warm air being drawnup from the South Atlantic.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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