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Winter storm Elliot: Power outages hit 1.1m and flights cancelled in path of deadly subzero weather – live

At least five people have been killed, more than 1.1 million customers are without power and thousands of flights cancelled or delayed as a historic polar vortex swept the United States this holiday season.

“Once-in-a-generation” Winter Storm Elliott is causing disruptions across the map with 60 per cent of Americans under winter weather warnings or advisories on Friday.

Blizzards, whiteouts, icy rain and freezing, powerful winds stretched from the Canadian border south to the Rio Grande, Gulf Coast and central Florida, and from the Pacific Northwest to the Eastern Seaboard. Wind chill is driving temperatures to minus 40 degrees in some parts of western states.

An estimated 10,000 flights have been delayed or canceled on Friday. Airports in the major transit hubs of New York, Chicago and Denver were reporting major cancellations.

President Joe Biden warned everyone to take the storm seriously. “This is not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is serious stuff,” he said.

Key Points

  • What is a bomb cyclone?

  • 181 million people under wind chill advisories

  • President Biden warns Americans to take caution in severe winter weather

  • Flight cancellations increase

Warming trend expected for coming days in southern US, NWS reports

22:42 , Josh Marcus

Warm weather is set on average to return by milder temperatures throughout next week in the Texas region, according to the National Weather Service.

The mercury could climb back to the 60s and 70s on average by next Thursday, the agency said.

Long lines and delays reported from Florida to Michigan as weather pounds airports

21:30 , Josh Marcus

Inclement weather is causing delays and long lines at airports across the country.

In Florida, as of noon, over 200 flights were delayed and 36 were canceled at Miami International Airport.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of flights have been canceled so we’re a little nervous about getting home,” traveler Galaxina Wright told CBS News.

Reporters in Detroit noted numerous delayed passengers there as well.

Videos capture storm surge, 60mph winds, and whiteout across the country

21:10 , Josh Marcus

Extreme winter weather is blasting large parts of the United States, from Indiana to coastal New York

Here are some of the wildest videos of what’s been happening, including storm surge and 60pmh winds near Buffalo, New York, and an icy whiteout in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Freezing weather threatens hundreds of migrants in states like Texas

20:52 , Josh Marcus

Migrants who crossed the US-Mexico border are one of the communities at particular risk of this week’s freezing temperatures.

Cities like El Paso are scrambling to open emergency shelters, though migrants say that shelters like the city’s 1,000-cot emergency facility are only open to those who have certain paperwork obtained by turning themselves in to the Border Patrol.

“We’re not permitted inside the shelter because we crossed without permission,” a Venezuelan migrant named Adda told NPR, who traveled to the US with her pregnant daughter.

We went to ask if we could stay in the shelter because my daughter is pregnant,” Adda continued. “But they told us no, not without a permit.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has continued to argue that the crisis is because the Biden administration has sought to end Title 42, a Trump-era policy turning away most asylum-seekers on dubious pandemic grounds before they could enter the US, even though research shows the policy has done little to stop repeat crossings.

Freezing rain pelts Washington

20:37 , Josh Marcus

Frozen rain smashed into parts of Washington state on Friday, as cold weather swept across much of the United States throughout the week.

Officials in the Puget Sound region have asked the public to stay off roads and delay non-essential travel, KOMO reports, while power lines weighed down with ice have begun to cause energy outages.

The frozen rain also temporarily delayed operations at Seattle’s SeaTac airport.

Postal carriers warn of delayed holiday packages

20:20 , Josh Marcus

As icy weathers shutter transit facilities across the country, FedEx and UPS are warning that holiday packages may arrive late this week, CNBC reports.

“FedEx Express experienced substantial disruptions at our Memphis and Indianapolis hubs last night due to severe winter weather that has been moving across the United States,” FedEx said on Friday in a statement.

UPS added that the winter chaos disrupted operations “across several regions of the U.S. are impacting the UPS Air and Ground network, including UPS hubs in Louisville, Kentucky and Rockford, Illinois.”

Pete Buttigieg thanks transit workers for persevering through ‘incredibly difficult conditions'

20:05 , Josh Marcus

Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg thanked America’s transit workers on Friday, many of whom are braving ice, snow, and long lines at airports to get people home for the holidays.“Have a thought to workers who are away from their families in order to get you closer to yours and in the case of some of thos ground crews, just working in incredibly difficult conditions,” Mr Buttigieg told MSNBC.

“More than anything else, more than the equipment, it’s the people of our tranportation sector that we all count on, whether we realise or not. “

Bulldozers and icicles on wings: Ice slams Seattle airport

19:45 , Josh Marcus

Seattle’s SeaTac airport felt the deep freeze on Friday.

Waiting planes were pictured on the runway with icicles hanging off their wings, and crews of plow trucks and bulldozers were called to clear ice from the landing path.

Estimated 1.5m people without power as Winter Storm Elliot advances

19:20 , Josh Marcus

More than 1.5 million people are without power across the United States, as Winter Storm Elliot batters infrastructure, the Weather Channel estimates.

The outages are largely concentrated across the East Coast, though states like Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia are among those experiencing blackouts.

Webcam captures eerie ‘sea smoke’ as freezing air moves over ocean in Texas

19:05 , Josh Marcus

Despite being in the far south of the US, Texas hasn’t escaped this week’s freezing weather.

Webcams near Galveston, Texas, captured one strange effects of the recent conditions: “sea smoke,” which forms when very cold air interacts with warmer water.

Take a look at the bizarre weather, courtesy of Saltwater Recon.

Many places more than 30 degrees colder than yesterday, NWS says

18:50 , Josh Marcus

The cold front sweeping across the US shows no signs of slowing down as it makes it way towards the East Coast.

Along the way, some locations are experiencing 30-degree single-day temperature drops, according to the National Weather Service.

Ohio governor warns residents to rethink travel plans and stay home

16:06 , Louise Boyle

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine urged residents of his state to reconsider their holiday travel plans and stay home as freezing, dangerous conditions set in.

Most of the Midwestern state was under winter storm warnings as subzero temperatures, gusting winds and snowfall set in on Friday.

By 10am, driving conditions had deteriorated across northern Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania as visibility was below a quarter of a mile due to falling and blowing snow.

Pictured: How the severe weather looks across the US

16:00 , Louise Boyle

A man clears snow off a sidewalk on Thursday in Minneapolis (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
A man clears snow off a sidewalk on Thursday in Minneapolis (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Frost crystals decorate a frozen pond at Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington on Thursday (GREG LEHMAN)
Frost crystals decorate a frozen pond at Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington on Thursday (GREG LEHMAN)
Travelers walk past flight information screens displaying flight status information at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Thursday (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Travelers walk past flight information screens displaying flight status information at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Thursday (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Watch: Friday’s winter storm forecast across the United States

15:45 , Louise Boyle

More than 1million homes without power

15:25 , Louise Boyle

Nearly 1.2 million customers are experiencing power cuts across the country by Friday morning due to Winter Storm Elliott.

Freeze watch versus warnings and advisories

15:10 , Louise Boyle

What’s the difference between warnings, watches and advisories? Some advice below.

Hard Freeze Warning: Take Action! NWS issues a hard freeze warning when temperatures are expected to drop below 28°F for an extended period of time, killing most types of commercial crops and residential plants.

Freeze Warning: Take Action! When temperatures are forecasted to go below 32°F for a long period of time, NWS issues a freeze warning. This temperature threshold kills some types of commercial crops and residential plants.

Freeze Watch: Be Prepared NWS issues a freeze watch when there is a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures within the next 24-36 hours. A freeze watch is issued in the autumn until the end of the growing season and in the spring at the start of the growing season.

Frost Advisory: Be Aware. A frost advisory means areas of frost are expected or occurring, posing a threat to sensitive vegetation.

Big freeze in the windy city

14:50 , Louise Boyle

Mist rises from the ‘windy’ city of Chicago on the edge of Lake Michigan at sunrise on December 23, 2022, where temperatures reached -6F (-21C), ahead of the Christmas Holiday (AFP via Getty Images)
Mist rises from the ‘windy’ city of Chicago on the edge of Lake Michigan at sunrise on December 23, 2022, where temperatures reached -6F (-21C), ahead of the Christmas Holiday (AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden briefed on extreme weather

14:33 , Louise Boyle

President Joe Biden was briefed on Winter Storm Elliott on Thursday and urged Americans to heed the warnings from forecasters.

“This is not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is serious stuff,” he said.

On Friday, the President and the First Lady will make a holiday visit to patients and families at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC.

Watch: Hot water turns into ice cloud as Missoula, Montana hit by extreme cold temperatures

14:10 , Louise Boyle

A makeshift science experiment was caught on camera during extreme cold weather in Missoula, Montana.

A wind chill advisory remains in place until 11am (local time) on Friday and a weather advisory until 5am on Saturday. Wind chills as low as 30 below zero are forecast along with snow accumulations of one to four inches. The most snow is expected on Friday afternoon.

Forecasters warned drivers to take extreme caution due to slippery roads. The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

Flight cancellations jump

13:57 , Louise Boyle

Total flight delays on Friday reached 10,850 with 5,840 cancellations. Airports in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver were among the worst affected.

Travelers wait in line to check-in for their flights at Terminal 1 ahead of the Christmas Holiday at Minneapolis-St Paul Airport on Thursday (www.keremyucel.com)
Travelers wait in line to check-in for their flights at Terminal 1 ahead of the Christmas Holiday at Minneapolis-St Paul Airport on Thursday (www.keremyucel.com)

What’s the difference between a wind chill warning and watch?

13:44 , Louise Boyle

What’s the difference between a wind chill warning and a wind chill watch?

A Wind Chill Warning - means take action, according to the US government site, weather.gov. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a wind chill warning when dangerously cold wind chill values are expected or occurring. If you are in an area with a wind chill warning, avoid going outside during the coldest parts of the day. If you do go outside, dress in layers, cover exposed skin, and make sure at least one other person knows your whereabouts. Update them when you arrive safely at your destination.

A Wind Chill Watch means be prepared. NWS issues a wind chill watch when dangerously cold wind chill values are possible. As with a warning, adjust your plans to avoid being outside during the coldest parts of the day. Make sure your car has at least a half a tank of gas, and update your winter survival kit.

A Wind Chill Advisory means be aware. NWS issues a wind chill advisory when seasonably cold wind chill values but not extremely cold values are expected or occurring. Be sure you and your loved ones dress appropriately and cover exposed skin when venturing outdoors.

Americans warned to travel with caution

13:15 , Louise Boyle

Forecasters warned people venturing out over the holidays to travel with extreme caution after at least five deaths were already reported on the roads in Oklahoma and Kansas.

“The ongoing major winter storm will continue to produce areas of heavy snow, strong winds, and life-threatening wind chills through Saturday. If traveling for the holiday, please use extreme caution and pay attention to the latest forecasts and updates,” the National Weather Service warned.

Power outages jump to 400,000 homes

13:08 , Louise Boyle

The number of power cuts believed to be linked to hazardous winter storm conditions jumped on Friday morning.

Nearly 98,000 people were without power in Connecticut and more than 95,000 in Georgia. In Texas, nearly 80,000 were without power as public officials rushed to reassure customers than their standalone power grid would hold up. The collapse of the Texas power grid during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021 led to 200 deaths.

Power outages were also reported in South Caroline - 71,654 - and North Carolina, 57,178 by utility tracker poweroutage.us

Power outages across the US on Friday morning amid Winter Storm Elliott (poweroutage.us)
Power outages across the US on Friday morning amid Winter Storm Elliott (poweroutage.us)

Wind chills set in

13:03 , Louise Boyle

Dangerously cold wind chill was setting in across much of the US on Friday. The gusts will continue to affect and spread eastward throughout the day from the Rocky Mountains, the south, Midwest, Great Lakes and advancing across to the eastern seaboard.

This graphic is the forecast for temperature at 1pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Friday.

Temperatures plummeted across much of the US driven by wind chill on Friday (NOAA)
Temperatures plummeted across much of the US driven by wind chill on Friday (NOAA)

Advice for pets

12:56 , Louise Boyle

Forecasters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota had advice for those taking care of their pets during the harsh weather.

“Like people, animals also feel the effects of wind chill, and prolonged time outdoors can be dangerous for them as well,” the National Weather Service office said.

‘Freezing, snowy nightmare before Christmas’ says NASA

12:43 , Louise Boyle

NASA’s satellite observations were described as “the freezing, snowy nightmare before Christmas” on Friday.

On the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) global model, the darkest blue areas indicated where surface temperatures are expected to drop at least 25 degrees (Fahrenheit) below average during the polar vortex.

Winter Storm Elliott will bring whiteout conditions, howling winds and several inches of snow.

Wind chill could push temperatures to -7F in Dallas, -14F in Memphis, and -32F in Kansas City, and -45F in Sioux Falls, The Washington Post reported. The National Weather Service in Cheyenne warned that temperatures could fall to as low as -70F in eastern Wyoming.

Weather map of US on December 23 (NASA)
Weather map of US on December 23 (NASA)

Montana resident shows ice forming inside her bedroom as temperatures plunge

12:30 , Louise Boyle

Winter Storm Elliot: Montana woman's bed headboard freezes as temperatures plummet

Drifting snow banks blanket North Dakota

12:19 , Louise Boyle

Rows of headstones at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery are blanketed by drifting snow on Thursday, December 22, in Mandan, North Dakota.

The National Weather Service in Bismarck, North Dakota issued a blizzard warning until 6pm on Friday with a wind chill warning in place until Saturday.

Dangerously cold winds as low as 55 below zero and gusting as high as 50mph were expected.

“Widespread blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility, making travel dangerous. The life threatening cold will cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 5 minutes,” NWS reported. Travel should be restricted to emergencies only, it said.

APTOPIX Winter Weather North Dakota
APTOPIX Winter Weather North Dakota

181 million under wind chill warnings

12:11 , Louise Boyle

Wind chill warnings or advisories were in place for 181 million people on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

More than 11 million people are also facing blizzard warnings and over 500,000 are under ice storm warnings.

“This system will have increasingly widespread impacts to travel going into the busy holiday travel time late this week, along with the potential for power outages from the expected high winds, heavy snows, significant icing and overall increased power consumption in places,” NWS reported.

The Arctic blast has caused temperatures to plummet 30 -50 degrees in short periods of times. In addition to the very cold temperatures, high winds in the wake of the front will produce dangerous wind chill readings across nearly all of the central to eastern US.

Local business owner posts timelapse of storm in Cincinnati, Ohio

11:56 , Louise Boyle

A local business owner in Cincinnati, Ohio posted an incredible timelapse video of Winter Storm Elliott descending on his street.

Snow doesn’t stop the party in Music City

11:45 , Louise Boyle

Snow falls on Broadway, a popular spot in “Music City” Nashville, Tennessee, on December 22, 2022. A
Snow falls on Broadway, a popular spot in “Music City” Nashville, Tennessee, on December 22, 2022. A

US flight map of misery

11:33 , Louise Boyle

The live flight delay and cancellation statistics from the tracker site FlightAware revealed a map of misery across the US on Friday.

Total cancellations within, into, or out of the US today stood at 3,080 flights while total delays were at 8,742.

The airports that are most severely impacted are New York City’s LaGuardia, Seattle-Tacoma in Washington, Detroit Metro in Michigan and both Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway in Illinois.

Snow days

11:25 , Louise Boyle

A man tosses hot boiling water in the snow in Carbon County, Montana on December 22 to show how it instantly freezes (@MEMENTOMORI_JMJ via REUTERS)
A man tosses hot boiling water in the snow in Carbon County, Montana on December 22 to show how it instantly freezes (@MEMENTOMORI_JMJ via REUTERS)

Blackouts increase as polar vortex takes hold

10:54 , Louise Boyle

Power cuts increased in states across the US on Friday as the polar vortex set in (poweroutage.us)
Power cuts increased in states across the US on Friday as the polar vortex set in (poweroutage.us)

Classes cancelled

10:47 , Louise Boyle

The School District of Philadelphia, the largest in Pennsylvania, announced that Friday’s final classes of the calendar year would be held online rather than in-person as scheduled.

In Allegheny County in the western part of the state, public works spokesman Brent Wasko said officials would deploy 33 salt trucks but that pretreating the roads wasn’t an option because expected rainfall Thursday night and Friday morning would wash the salt away.

Associated Press

What is a bomb cyclone?

10:40 , Louise Boyle

It’s possible that the bitterly cold Arctic blast sweeping the United States will develop into a “bomb cyclone”. But what does this mean?

What is a ‘bomb cyclone’? US facing winter weather warning

National Weather Service warns 60 per cent of US population will be impacted

10:34 , Louise Boyle

A “historic” winter storm is causing widespread disruptions to large portions of the nation heading into the holiday weekend, the National Weather Service warned in its latest update at 3am (eastern time) on Friday.

Over 200 million people, or roughly 60 per cent of the U.S. population, are under some form of winter weather warnings or advisories today as the powerful Arctic front is sweeping across the eastern third of the nation.

Heavy snow is forecast to blanket the Great Lakes region into northern New York State and northern New England while significant freezing rain possible across the Pacific Northwest.