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Monday, December 26, 2022

Brutal US blizzard kills 32 people and causes power disruptions and traffic jams

Savage US blizzard leaves 32 dead, power outages, travel snarls


 In New York: At least 32 people have died as a result of the severe winter storm that hit the eastern United States on Sunday, putting millions of Americans in danger and suffering on Christmas Day. The storm brought heavy snowfall and bitter cold to parts of the country.


In Buffalo, a city in western New York that has been trapped by a blizzard and unable to reach high-impact areas, a crisis was developing.


According to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, where eight-foot (2.4-meter) snow drifts and power outages have resulted in life-threatening conditions, "it is (like) going to a warzone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking."


A "very dangerous life-threatening situation" was still affecting residents, Hochul told reporters Sunday evening, and he advised anyone in the vicinity to stay inside.


Although the five-day storm with its blizzard conditions and ferocious winds showed signs of abating, more than 200,000 people in several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had to change their plans to travel for the holiday.


Over the weekend, the extreme weather brought wind chill temperatures in all 48 states within the contiguous United States below freezing, stranding holiday travelers with thousands of cancelled flights and trapping residents in homes covered in ice and snow.


Nine states have reported 31 weather-related deaths, including four in Colorado, who are likely to have died from exposure, and at least 12 in New York, where authorities warned that the number would likely rise.


Officials described historically hazardous conditions in the snow-prone Buffalo region, including whiteouts lasting for hours and the discovery of bodies in vehicles and beneath snow banks as rescue workers struggled to locate those in need of rescue.


The city's international airport will remain closed until Tuesday, and all of Erie County, where the lake-side metropolis is located, is still prohibited from driving.


Hochul said, "We now have what'll be talked about not just today but for generations (as) the blizzard of '22." He added that the severity of the storm had "intensity, the longevity, the ferocity of the winds" exceeded that of the region's landmark snowstorm of 1977.


A senior county official stated that one frozen substation was reportedly buried under 18 feet of snow, and that some residents were not expected to regain power until Tuesday as a result of frozen electric substations.


"Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet through tonight," the National Weather Service warned, indicated that blizzard conditions brought on by lake-effect snow continued Sunday in the Great Lakes region of western New York.


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


Rebecca Bortolin, 40, stated, "It's tough because the conditions are just so bad... a lot of fire departments aren't even sending out trucks for calls."


For millions, a broader travel nightmare was fully present.


According to Flightaware.com, the storm, one of the strongest in decades, caused the cancellation of more than 2,400 US flights on Sunday. On Saturday, approximately 3,500 flights were canceled, and on Friday, nearly 6,000 flights were canceled.


Throughout Christmas Day, travelers were stuck or delayed at airports in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and New York.


Some of the busiest transportation routes in the country, including the Interstate 70 across the country, were also temporarily shut down as a result of road ice and whiteout conditions.


Despite the fact that the nation was approaching the time of year when travel is typically at its busiest, drivers were being warned not to use the roads.


Numerous power providers have urged millions of people to reduce their usage in order to prevent rolling blackouts in states like North Carolina and Tennessee due to the severe weather.


According to the tracker poweroutage.us, at one point on Saturday, nearly 1.7 million customers were without power in the bitter cold.


By Sunday evening, the number had significantly decreased, but more than 70,000 customers in eastern states were still without power.


A bus rollover on Saturday in British Columbia, Canada, thought to have been caused by icy roads killed four people and sent 53 to the hospital, two of whom are still in critical condition early Sunday.


In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario and Quebec were without power, numerous major city flights were canceled, and train passenger service between Toronto and Ottawa was halted.

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