Wild winter storm engulfs US, Snarling Christmas trips
Millions of Americans face blinding blizzards, freezing rain, flooding and life-threatening cold during Christmas as a winter storm of unprecedented scope makes its way through most of the country. Wild winter storm engulfs US, Snarling Christmas trips
MISSION, Kansas (AP) — A savage winter storm continued to blanket much of the United States Saturday, bringing blinding blizzards, freezing rain, flooding and life-threatening cold that created chaos for vacation travelers. of Christmas.
The storm that arrived earlier in the week downed power lines, littered highways with piles of cars in deadly crashes and caused massive flight cancellations.
The storm was almost unprecedented in its reach, stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande River along the Mexican border. About 60% of the US population faced some type of winter weather watch or warning, with temperatures dropping sharply below normal from the Rocky Mountains east to the Appalachians, the National Weather Service said.
Freezing rain covered much of the Pacific Northwest in a sheet of ice, while people in the Northeast faced the threat of coastal and inland flooding.
Frigid temperatures and gusty winds were expected to deliver “dangerously cold chills across much of the central and eastern US this holiday weekend,” the weather service said, adding that the conditions “will create a dangerous life-threatening for travelers who become stranded.”
“In some areas, being outdoors could lead to frostbite within minutes,” he said.
Adding to the problems were power outages that as of Friday night were still affecting more than a million homes and businesses, according to the PowerOutage website, which tracks utility reports.
As millions of Americans were traveling before Christmas, more than 5,700 flights within, to or from the US were canceled on Friday, according to tracking site FlightAware.
Several roads were closed and the accidents claimed at least six lives, authorities said. At least two people have died in a massive crash involving about 50 vehicles on the Ohio Turnpike. A Kansas City, Missouri, driver was killed Thursday after skidding into a creek, and three others were killed Wednesday in separate crashes on icy northern Kansas roads.
In Canada, WestJet canceled all flights Friday at Toronto Pearson International Airport as forecasters warned of a possible once-in-a-decade weather event. While in Mexico, the migrants camped out near the US border in unusually cold temperatures as they awaited a US Supreme Court decision on pandemic-era restrictions that prevent many from seeking asylum.
Forecasters said a bomb cyclone, when air pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm, had developed near the Great Lakes, bringing blizzard conditions including high winds and snow.
Even people in Florida braced for unusually cold weather, as rare frost warnings were issued across much of the state over the holiday weekend.
Activists were rushing to get the homeless out of the cold. Nearly 170 adults and children were keeping warm early Friday in Detroit in a shelter and warming center that is designed to hold 100 people.
“This is a lot of extra people,” but turning anyone away was not an option, said Faith Fowler, executive director of Cass Community Social Services, which runs both facilities.
Emergency weather shelters in Portland, Oregon, called for volunteers amid high demand and staffing issues as snow, freezing rain, ice and frigid temperatures descended on the area.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said she was deploying the National Guard to transport lumber to the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux tribes and help with snow removal.
“We have families that are far away that we haven’t heard from in two weeks,” said Wayne Boyd, Rosebud Sioux president’s chief of staff.
On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Harlie Young huddled with five children and her father around a wood stove as 12-foot (3.6-meter) snow blocked their home.
“We’re just trying to look on the bright side that they’re still coming and they haven’t forgotten us,” she said Friday.
Calling it a “kitchen sink storm,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency. In parts of New York City, flooding. Read more….