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Savage US blizzard leaves 31 dead, power outages, travel snarls

Savage US blizzard leaves 31 dead, power outages, travel snarls

NEW YORK: A brutal winter storm brought Christmas Day danger and misery to millions of Americans yesterday (Dec 25) as intense snow and frigid cold gripped parts of the eastern United States, with weather-related deaths rising to at least 31.


Monday 26 December 2022, 10:23AM

Vehicles move along a highway in Louisville, Kentucky, under freezing temperatures on Friday (Dec 23). Photo: AFP

Vehicles move along a highway in Louisville, Kentucky, under freezing temperatures on Friday (Dec 23). Photo: AFP

A crisis situation was unfolding in Buffalo, in western New York, where a blizzard has left the city marooned, with emergency services unable to reach high impact areas.

“It is (like) going to a warzone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, where eight-foot (2.4-meter) snow drifts and power outages have made for life-threatening conditions.

Hochul told reporters last night that residents were still in the throes of a “very dangerous life-threatening situation” and warned anyone in the area to remain indoors.

More than 200,000 people across several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had their holiday travel plans upended, although the five-day-long storm featuring blizzard conditions and ferocious winds showed signs of easing.

The extreme weather sent wind chill temperatures in all 48 contiguous US states below freezing over the weekend, stranded holiday travelers with thousands of flights canceled and trapped residents in ice- and snow-encrusted homes.

Thirty-one weather-related deaths have been confirmed across nine states, including four in Colorado who likely died of exposure and at least 12 in New York state, where officials warned the number would likely rise.

Officials described historically dangerous conditions in the snow-prone Buffalo region, with hours-long whiteouts and bodies discovered in vehicles and under snow banks as emergency workers struggled to search for those in need of rescue.

The city’s international airport remains closed until tomorrow and a driving ban remained in effect for all of Erie County, where the lake-side metropolis is located.

“We now have what’ll be talked about not just today but for generations (as) the blizzard of ‘22,” Hochul said, adding that the brutality had surpassed the region’s prior landmark snowstorm of 1977 in “intensity, the longevity, the ferocity of the winds.”

Due to frozen electric substations, some residents were not expected to regain power until tomorrow, with one frozen substation reportedly buried under 18 feet of snow, a senior county official said.

Conditions are just so bad’

The National Weather Service warned that blizzard conditions in western New York’s Great Lakes region caused by lake-effect snow was continuing yesterday, with “additional snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet through tonight.”

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One couple in Buffalo, across the border from Canada, told AFP Saturday that with the roads completely impassible, they would not be making a 10-minute drive to see their family for Christmas.

“It’s tough because the conditions are just so bad... a lot of fire departments aren’t even sending out trucks for calls,” said 40-year-old Rebecca Bortolin.

A broader travel nightmare was in full effect for millions.

The storm, one of the fiercest in decades, forced the cancellation of more than 2,400 US flights yesterday, in addition to some 3,500 scrapped Saturday and nearly 6,000 Friday, according to tracking website Flightaware.com.

Travelers remained stranded or delayed at airports throughout Christmas Day including in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York.

Road ice and white-out conditions also led to the temporary closure of some of the nation’s busiest transport routes, including the cross-country Interstate 70.

Drivers were being warned not to take to the roads - even as the nation reached what is usually its busiest time of year for travel.

The extreme weather has severely taxed electricity grids, with multiple power providers urging millions of people to reduce usage to minimize rolling blackouts in places like North Carolina and Tennessee.

At one point on Saturday, nearly 1.7 million customers were without electricity in the biting cold, according to tracker poweroutage.us.

The figure dropped substantially by Sunday evening, although more than 70,000 customers in eastern states still lacked power.

In British Columbia, Canada, a Saturday bus rollover believed to be caused by icy roads left four people dead and sent 53 to the hospital, including two still in critical condition early yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands were meanwhile left without power in Ontario and Quebec, many flights were canceled in major cities and train passenger service between Toronto and Ottawa was suspended.

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christysweet | 27 December 2022 - 17:45:26

Don't be obtuse,  voting  is THE factor in how a state manages critical weather  situations. GOP  legislates sexuality and bans books whilst  Dems fund vital infrastructure and seek to wean the nation off fossil fuels.  

christysweet | 27 December 2022 - 17:35:12

'Global Warming' was found to  be confusing to the less educated who expect the planet to heat up uniformly like a pot of coffee. The proof is in pics of thousands of years old glaciers melting away. Just wait for the methane to be released from  not so perma- frost.   Sure bad weather has been around forever, just now it'll be a lot more frequent.   

Taswegian | 27 December 2022 - 09:12:49

Unbelievable! Global warming has proven to be a falsehood so it became climate change. Now cold weather is caused by how people vote! Of course, NASA would never doctor satellite images of polar regions to suit warmists. Anything to justify their bloated budget.

maverick | 27 December 2022 - 07:06:19

As if there haven’t been cold snaps in US before I recall a family holiday in the 60’s being severely disrupted by heavy snow and cold weather in Virginia that was unheard of at the time - as was climate change no media claptrap around then 

christysweet | 26 December 2022 - 17:17:18

As with COVID, more are suffering in "red" states than blue. Republicans  govern badly and Texas is a great example, Constant black outs in severe weather events leading to death.

christysweet | 26 December 2022 - 17:15:00

 Polar warming is a more apt term. That increase in temp  is  the force pushing cold air south. 

Taswegian | 26 December 2022 - 11:31:50

Must be global warming...


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