A horrific winter storm swept across the U.S. on Saturday, bringing blinding snow and powerful arctic winds, leaving 1.7 million customers without power as thousands of passengers stranded on canceled flights were on their last trip before Christmas. minute sprint.
At least 13 people were killed by the storm in six states as heavy snow, howling winds and dangerously cold temperatures frozen much of the United States, including the normally temperate South, for a third straight day.
The “bomb cyclone” winter storm, one of the most violent in decades, forced the cancellation of more than 1,900 U.S. flights on Saturday and nearly 6,000 a day later, according to tracking website Flightaware.com.
Flight cancellations have left travelers stranded at airports including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York hoping for a miracle of rebooking before Christmas.
Travelers like Zack Cuyler, whose scheduled Dec. 22 flight to Houston has been delayed and canceled twice this week, are “very frustrated” by the chaos.
The 35-year-old, who lives in New York City, now hopes to be back with his family by Christmas.
“I am very happy to see my family at Christmas,” he told AFP.
In hard-hit New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed the National Guard to Erie County and its main city of Buffalo, where authorities said emergency services had largely collapsed in the face of extreme snowstorm conditions.
“There are probably hundreds of people still trapped in vehicles,” Erie County Executive Mark Polonkaz said earlier Saturday, adding that the National Guard was being dispatched “directly into Buffalo for these endangered life saving”.
The icy and snowy conditions also closed some of the nation’s busiest traffic routes, including Interstate 70, some of which were temporarily closed in Colorado and Kansas.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), more than 200 million Americans received weather warnings on Friday as wind chills sent temperatures down to -55 degrees Fahrenheit (-48 degrees Celsius).
While the number of people under severe weather warnings fell sharply on Saturday, authorities were still warning of deadly conditions and urging residents to stay indoors.
Biting cold was a preoccupation for more than 1.7 million power customers without power, according to tracker poweroutage.us.
Some cities, including North Carolina, have begun implementing rolling blackouts due to high electricity demand, and in some cases people can’t safely heat their homes.
cold weather outreach
In El Paso, Texas, desperate migrants from Mexico huddled for warmth in churches, schools and civic centers, Rosa Falcon, a school teacher and volunteer, told AFP.
But she added that some people still chose to stay outside in the frigid temperatures because they feared the attention of immigration authorities.
In Chicago, Burke Patten of Night Ministry, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, said: “We’ve been giving out winter gear, including coats, hats, gloves, thermal underwear, blankets and sleeping bags, and hand and foot warmers.”
The National Weather Service forecast early Saturday that dangerously cold weather would persist over the central and eastern United States over the weekend before temperatures return to more normal seasonal weather next week.
In Canada, some are taking the freezing cold in stride, including stoic last-minute holiday shoppers in downtown Toronto.
Jennifer Campbell of Caledon, Ont., told AFP: “I think every few years we have some big storms and we just adjust. We’re Canadians and that’s the way we do things.”
Still, severe weather warnings have been issued for provinces across Canada. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power in Ontario and Quebec, while many flights were also canceled at airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
floods, strong winds
In the U.S., transportation departments in several Plains states reported near-zero visibility, icy roads and snowstorms and strongly urged residents to stay home.
Drivers have been warned to stay off the roads – even as the country hits what is usually the busiest time of year for travel.
By Friday afternoon, the storm had reached “bomb cyclone” status after a sharp drop in air pressure over a 24-hour period.
Bomb whirlwinds can produce heavy rain or snow. They can also cause coastal flooding and generate hurricane-force winds.
Toronto-based meteorologist Kelsey McEwan tweeted that waves as high as 26 feet (8 meters) were reported on Lake Erie, while winds of 74 mph (120 mph) were reported in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. km), the NWS tweeted.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)