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Blizzard warnings issued for the first day of spring

(CNN) From intense storms to heavy rain and some snow, the first day of spring will bring a massive storm that's felt from coast to coast.

"This is one of the first significant storm systems of the season -- a real clash of warm and cold air masses," CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

It's not uncommon for early spring storms like this to bring a large swath of snow as well as a significant area of severe weather, including tornadoes.

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Spring brings a big blast of winter

Winter isn't over for millions in the West, as another blast of winter weather is taking shape across the region.

Blizzard warnings are up for northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

Snowfall rates are expected to be 1 to 3 inches per hour, along with wind gusts of 55 mph. Places like Denver could wind up with as much as 6 inches of snow, with winds gusting 25 to 45 mph.

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Travel will be treacherous, and there will be long airport delays in Denver. The coronavirus pandemic has also affected travel worldwide, with many experiencing canceled flights and travel bans as they make their way home.

The rain will change over to snow for places like Minneapolis during the evening hours on Thursday.

This will create slick conditions on the roads and airport delays in the Midwest.

The winter weather will push out of the Midwest by Friday afternoon, leaving behind cooler temperatures to start spring.

Severe Storms threaten Mississippi river valley

The Storm Prediction Center has issued an enhanced risk of severe weather for Thursday from central Arkansas to central Indiana, as well as parts of Nebraska and Iowa. Cities in the risk area include Omaha, Indianapolis, Des Moines and Little Rock.

This risk area is a level 3 out of 5 in terms of severity. The possibility of large hail, damaging winds and even isolated tornadoes are possible. The Storm Prediction Center has placed a 10% chance of tornadoes within 25 miles in the risk area.

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The storms will begin firing up in the plains Thursday morning and continue to move east through the day. They will bring very heavy rain to Omaha, Oklahoma City and St. Louis during the morning hours, then move east through the afternoon.

Localized flash flooding is possible within some of the heavier pockets of rain.

By the evening, the storms make their way up to places like Minneapolis and Chicago, with very heavy rain expected. Some storms could be intense in these areas, too, with very gusty winds. Airport delays are expected as these storms roll through the Midwest.

The showers and storms will move farther east by Friday, impacting the Northeast and parts of the Southeast. The severe risk won't be as significant for the Northeast.

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There's a level 1 out of 5 for severe weather for the interior sections of the Northeast.

Regardless, there will still be heavy rain Friday along the Northeast corridor, as well as the Gulf Coast.

"We could also see flooding from the Deep South through the Ohio Valley," Ward said. "Rainfall will generally only be in the 1- to 2-inch range. Still, this area experienced an extremely wet winter -- record-breaking in some cases."