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Winter storm Elliott - live: Blizzard kills 56 and grounds 17,000 flights in war zone-like conditions

Winter storm Elliott - live: Blizzard kills 56 and grounds 17,000 flights in war zone-like conditions

One of the coldest Christmas storms in modern memory has left at least 56 people dead across the United States.

Winter storm Elliott’s icy bite saw temperatures plunge to record lows in parts of Montana, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, and wrought havoc on Christmas travel plans.

Authorities in western New York reported 27 deaths in the Buffalo area alone, which has been the worst affected. Several people were found dead in their cars after becoming stranded in whiteout conditions.

New York governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, was stunned by what she saw, saying: “It is [like] going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking.”

More than 19,643 US airline flights were delayed and at least 5,779 were cancelled, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Approximately 20,000 flights were cancelled across the long weekend, leaving thousands of travellers stranded at airports over Christmas.

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. The Wind chill drove temperatures to -40C in some parts of western states.

Governor Hochul said the storm will “go down in history as the most devastating” ever to hit the state.

Key Points

  • At least 56 people dead and 20,000 flights affected in winter storm

  • Power grid operator urges consumers to save energy

  • Warnings issued power outages in parts of US could last for days

  • Power demand hit record-high in Tennessee

  • PHOTOS: Snow and freezing temperatures hit US

  • Death toll climbs to 50 as thousands still without power

Frustrated sports journalist goes viral after being sent into blizzard to cover weather

12:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Sports reporter Mark Woodley has gone viral after he candidly expressed his feelings about being asked to go outside to cover the weather in the midst of a blizzard.

The Iowa-based journalist took to Twitter on Thursday night to share the footage of himself in the snowstorm, as he was doing a weather report for KWWL-TV, a news station in Waterloo. Speaking to the camera, he explained why he was tasked to report on the topic, which he doesn’t usually cover.

“I normally do sports, everything is cancelled here for the next couple of days,” he explained. “So what better time to ask the sports guy to come in about five hours earlier than he would normally wake up. Go stand out in the wind and the snow and the cold and tell other people not to do the same?”

Frustrated sports reporter goes viral after being sent into blizzard to cover weather

How did people die as storm hit Buffalo?

12:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The tragic deaths of those in Erie County, which includes the city of Buffalo were cause by a combination of factors relating to the impact of Winter Storm Elliott, including delayed emergency services, cardiac events from shovelling snow, being trapped in vehicles, or exposure to the cold.

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 56 as thousands still without power in -40 temperatures

12:00 , Shweta Sharma

The death toll from an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” storm that has wrought havoc across the United States rose to at least 56, with the Buffalo area of New York state being one of the hardest-hit places.

Winter storm Elliott has brought temperatures as low as -50F (-45C) across a vast swathe of North America, from the Great Lakes near Canada to Arizona.

More than a million households were without power on Christmas Day according to poweroutage.us, while the travel plans of tens of thousands of people were disrupted by cancelled flights and dangerous roads.

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 56 as thousands still without power

Photos: Winter storm unleashes fiercest winter storm across US in decades

11:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Winter Storm Elliott has brought record-low temperatures to many places, including Bozeman, Montana, which reached a bone-chilling -43F.

An estimated 60 per cent of the US population was under some form of weather warning on Christmas Day, according to the Associated Press.

 (Jason Murawski Jr via REUTERS)
(Jason Murawski Jr via REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (OPP West Region via REUTERS)
(OPP West Region via REUTERS)

Mayor slams ‘lowest of the low’ looters in Buffalo

11:38 , Oliver O'Connell

The chaos of the deadly winter storm as it hit Buffalo has given cover to looters who have struck local businesses knowing any police response would be hampered by the deep snow and dangerous driving conditions.

“I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told reporters on Monday.

“They are the lowest of the low,” Mr Brown said of the opportunistic thieves.

“People who are out looting when people are losing their lives in this harsh winter storm is just absolutely reprehensible,” he said.

“They’re not looting foods and medicines, they’re just looting items that they want. So these aren’t even people in distress,” the mayor said. “These are people who are taking advantage of a national disaster and the suffering of many in our community to take what they want.”

The situation reportedly improved throughout Monday as officers were moved back to their regular patrols. Some arrests have been made.

Biden approves New York emergency declaration, calls in FEMA

11:30 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the victims’ families, and offered federal assistance Monday to the hard-hit state.

On Monday he approved a federal response to the New York disaster and called in the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The White House released the following statement:

Today, President Joseph R Biden, Jr declared that an emergency exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm beginning on December 23, 2022, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Erie and Genesee.

Specifically, FEMA is authorised to identify, mobilise, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 perc ent Federal funding.

Deanne Criswell, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Lai Sun Yee as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Biden spoke with New York Governor Hochul

11:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Per the White House:

President Joseph R Biden, Jr called Governor Kathy Hochul to offer the full force of the Federal government in support of the people of New York as the state grapples with the impacts of a historic winter storm. The President shared that his and the First Lady’s prayers are with the people of New York and all those who lost loved ones. He expressed his gratitude to the Governor for her leadership and to the National Guard, law enforcement, and first responders for their tireless work. The President relayed that he has directed his team to respond immediately to any request the Governor makes for Federal assistance.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul greets the president and first lady on a visit to Buffalo in May 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
New York Governor Kathy Hochul greets the president and first lady on a visit to Buffalo in May 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

Another nine inches of snow forecast for western New York

10:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Up to nine more inches of snow (23 centimeters) could fall in some areas of western New York through Tuesday, the National Weather Service has forecast.

“This is not the end yet,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, calling the blizzard “the worst storm probably in our lifetime,” even for an area accustomed to punishing snow.

Some people, he noted, were stranded in their cars for more than two days.

AP

At least 27 killed in New York’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime blizzard’

10:00 , Shweta Sharma

At least 27 people died in one of the worst weather-related disasters in New York as a strong blizzard paralysed the region over the Christmas weekend.

Up to nine more inches of snow could fall in some areas of western New York through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The rest of the US has been reeling from ferocious winter storm Elliott as well, with at least another two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country.

At least 27 killed in New York’s ‘once in a lifetime blizzard’

Buffalo families struggle for food and water after once-in-a-lifetime’ blizzard upends lives

09:00 , Shweta Sharma

Hundreds of families in western New York are struggling to find food, medicine and water after a historic snowstorm blocked roads, and cut off electricity and water supply.

Major supermarkets and pharmacies announced the temporary shutdown of stores after a fierce snowstorm dumped 4 feet of snowfall since storm Elliott took shape on Friday.

“There are no stores open. It’s whatever you can grab,” Scott McCandless, 54, who lives in Orchard Park, a suburb southeast of Buffalo, told NBC.

He said he gave up after driving at least 7 miles in his car to find nothing open as groceries dwindled at home.

 (Mostofa Ahsan via REUTERS)
(Mostofa Ahsan via REUTERS)

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

08:00 , Shweta Sharma

An Arctic blast is sweeping the United States, impacting swathes of the country this holiday season with a miserable mix of dangerous cold, blinding snow squalls and flash freezing.

The powerful winter storm will produce widespread, disruptive and potentially crippling impacts across the central and eastern United States between now and Christmas Eve, the National Weather Service warned.

Forecasters are also warning of the potential for a “bomb cyclone” – but what does this mean?

Read here:

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

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 56 as thousands still without power in -40 temperatures

07:16 , Shweta Sharma

The death toll from an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” storm that has wrought havoc across the United States rose to at least 56, with the Buffalo area of New York state being one of the hardest-hit places.

Winter storm Elliott has brought temperatures as low as -50F (-45C) across a vast swathe of North America, from the Great Lakes near Canada to Arizona.

More than a million households were without power on Christmas Day according to poweroutage.us, while the travel plans of tens of thousands of people were disrupted by cancelled flights and dangerous roads.

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 56 as thousands still without power

Harrowing conditions for the stranded

07:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Freezing conditions and power outages had Buffalonians scrambling to get to anywhere with heat amid what Hochul called the longest sustained blizzard conditions ever in the city. But with streets under a thick blanket of white, that wasn’t an option for people like Jeremy Manahan, who charged his phone in his parked car after almost 29 hours without electricity.

“There’s one warming shelter, but that would be too far for me to get to. I can’t drive, obviously, because I’m stuck,” Mr Manahan said. “And you can’t be outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frostbit.”

Ditjak Ilunga of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was on his way to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario, for Christmas with his daughters Friday when their SUV was trapped in Buffalo. Unable to get help, they spent hours with the engine running, buffeted by wind, and nearly buried in snow.

By 4am on Saturday, their fuel nearly gone, Mr Ilunga made a desperate choice to risk the howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. He carried six-year-old Destiny on his back while 16-year-old Cindy clutched their Pomeranian puppy, following his footprints through drifts.

“If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids,” Mr Ilunga recalled thinking. He cried when the family walked through the shelter doors. “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”

Southwest Airlines suffer 70% flight cancelation as thousands stuck

06:30 , Shweta Sharma

Thousands of people were stranded at airports, faced delays and waited in queues as severe weather conditions snarled US commercial air traffic amid the holiday season.

Southwest airlines was one of the worst impacted as it cancelled nearly 70 per cent of the scheduled flights on Monday, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

More than 3,800 US airline flights were cancelled yesterday, including 2,800 operated by Southwest, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Delays were reported for more than 7,100 US flight departures and arrivals overall, with several hundred by Southwest.

“Challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said in a statement, citing “consecutive days of extreme winter weather.”

The US Transportation Department said late yesterday it would examine the large number of Southwest Airlines cancelled and delayed flights in recent days to determine if they were in the airline’s control, calling them “unacceptable”.

Commercial airline traffic has been upended since last week as an Arctic blast coupled with a massive winter storm dubbed Elliott took shape over the Midwest and swept over much of the United States in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday weekend.

The resulting surge in cancellations and delays, coupled with long lines and missing luggage at airports, spoiled wintertime vacation plans for countless US airline customers during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Death toll climbs and flight delays worsen

06:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The death toll from an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” storm that wrought havoc across the United States rose to at least 50 on Monday, with the Buffalo area of New York state, at the edge of Lake Erie near the Canadian border, one of the hardest-hit places.

Winter Storm Elliott brought temperatures as low as -50F (-45C) across a vast swathe of North America from the Great Lakes near Canada to Arizona.

Bevan Hurley reports on how events unfolded this weekend.

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 50 as thousands still without power

Looters ransack Buffalo stores amid snowstorm chaos

05:36 , Shweta Sharma

Local looters robbed businesses in Buffalo over the weekend as deadly blizzard conditions kept law enforcement stuck.

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown slammed looters for taking the opportunity of a disaster, saying “they are the lowest of the low” of the opportunistic crooks.

“I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror,” he said.

Visuals on local TV stations showed some people taking away boxes full of groceries from supermarkets with their windows smashed and merchandise damaged.

“People who are out looting when people are losing their lives in this harsh winter storm is just absolutely reprehensible,” Mr Brown said.

“They’re not looting foods and medicines, they’re just looting items that they want. So these aren’t even people in distress,” the mayor added.

“These are people who are taking advantage of a national disaster and the suffering of many in our community to take what they want.”

At least 56 people dead and 20,000 flights affected in winter storm

04:43 , Shweta Sharma

Brutal weather conditions brought by storm Elliott have claimed at least 56 lives across the US.

At least 28 people were dead in Buffalo in what was described as the most devastating snowstorm, turning the city into a war zone.

“This is a war with mother nature, and she has been hitting us with everything she has,” said Kathy Hochul, New York’s governor, on Monday.

“It is like going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking.”

With snow continuing to fall on top of more than 4ft (1.2 meters) dumped on Buffalo since the blizzard took shape on Friday, New York’s second-largest city stood as ground zero for a storm the governor called an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster.

US president Joe Biden issued a federal emergency declaration for the state of New York on Monday night, authorising US government assistance to bolster state and local recovery efforts, the White House announced.

South Korean tour group taken in by New York couple after van got stranded in snow

04:00 , Oliver O'Connell

After their passenger van got stranded in the snow, a South Korean tour group on their way to Niagara Falls ended up spending the weekend at the Williamsville, New York, home of Buffalo-area locals Alexander and Andrew Campagna.

The group of ten — seven women and three men— including a honeymooning couple, college students, a young girl and her parents, and the driver — took refuge with the Campagnas on Friday. A well-stocked fridge and fondness for Korean cuisine saw the group able to wait out the storm in the three-bedroom home.

One of the group, Yoseb Choi, 27, told The New York Times: “It was kind of like fate,” remarking on the luck of arriving at the Campagnas’ doorstep with their fully stocked kitchen and unhesitating hospitality.

He said the hosts were “the kindest people I have ever met”.

“We have enjoyed this so much,” Mr Campagna said, calling it a “unique blessing,” and adding that the experience has inspired the couple to plan a visit to South Korea.

“We will never forget this.”

Missing Minnesota Man found dead

02:45 , Oliver O'Connell

A 20-year-old man has been found dead after going missing in Minnesota.

The search for George Musser ended on Christmas Day at around 7pm after his body was found in Baytown Township.

“George’s family has been notified. There is no other information at this time as this case is still under investigation,” police said on Sunday.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Man who vanished in frigid Minnesota is found dead after massive Christmas Day search

Japan also struggling with heavy snowfall and death toll

01:30 , Oliver O'Connell

It’s not just North America struggling with severe winter weather.

Heavy snow in large swaths of Japan has killed 17 and injured more than 90 people and left hundreds of homes without power, disaster management officials said Monday.

Powerful winter fronts have dumped heavy snow in northern regions since last week, stranding hundreds of vehicles on highways, delaying delivery services and causing 11 deaths by Saturday. More snowfall over the Christmas weekend brought the number of dead to 17 and injured to 93 by Monday morning, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Many of them had fallen while removing snow from the roofs or were buried underneath thick piles of snow sliding off rooftops.

Read more:

Heavy snow in Japan leaves 17 dead, dozens injured

ICYMI: Buffalo Bills players find cars under feet of snow

00:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Players for the Buffalo Bills returned to the storm-hit city after playing in Chicago on Saturday to find their cars under heavy snow.

The big warm up is on its way later this week

Monday 26 December 2022 23:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Freezing air will continue to dominate the eastern half of the US for the early part of the week, but a big warm-up is predicted from Wednesday onwards. By New Year’s Eve, temperatures will likely be above average for the vast majority of the continental US.

Southwest Airlines cancels 60 percent of its flights on Monday

Monday 26 December 2022 22:27 , Bevan Hurley

Southwest Airlines was the carrier hardest hit by weather-related travel chaos that saw many thousands of travellers stranded on Boxing Day.

The airline was forced to cancel more than 60 per cent of its flights on Monday, among the 5,480 flights that were cancelled across the US, according to the Flight Aware site.

Southwest apologised for the disruption in a statement on its website.

Aside from the icy blast from Winter Storm Elliott, the airline blamed unexpected fog in San Diego and staffing shortages at a fuel depot in Denver, according to CNBC.

Frustrated passengers posted videos of lengthy lines at airports across the US.

Water crisis across South as pipes freeze and break

Monday 26 December 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Days of freezing temperatures in Deep South areas that usually freeze for only hours are threatening dozens of water systems as burst pipes leak millions of gallons of water.

The problems were happening Monday in large, troubled water systems like Jackson, Mississippi, where residents were required over Christmas to boil water months after most lost service because of a cascade of problems from years of poor maintenance.

They also are happening in Shreveport, Louisiana, where some residents had no water Monday. In Selma, Alabama, the mayor declared a state of emergency because they city worried it would run out of water. Workers at a food bank in Greenville, South Carolina, opened their doors to a rush of water and were trying to save $1 million in food. Police departments around Atlanta said their 911 systems were being overwhelmed by unnecessary emergency calls about broken pipes.

Read on:

Deep freeze breaks pipes, creates water crisis across South

Hell literally froze over

Monday 26 December 2022 21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

A small town in Michigan called Hell, literally froze over when the “bomb cyclone” swept across the US over the Christmas weekend.

Hell freezes over during US bomb cyclone

More snow to come

Monday 26 December 2022 20:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The National Weather Service reports that lake effect snow will continue through Tuesday northeast of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Additional accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are expected off Lake Erie in and near Buffalo, and 1 to 2 feet for Jefferson and northern Lewis counties.

In freezing weather, Texas governor sends buses of migrants to VP’s DC home

Monday 26 December 2022 19:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Texas Governor Greg Abbott appears to have celebrated Christmas this weekend by ensuring that three busloads of migrants would be left in the cold outside of Kamala Harris’s residence.

The Republican state leader has continued, along with Florida’s Ron DeSantis, to use confused migrants and lure them onto buses to take them to areas that will attract media attention under the promise of aid being provided once they arrive. In many if not all cases, the governors have had little to no contact with local authorities to manage the migrants’ arrival and to ensure they are not left out on the street in an unfamiliar town.

John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.

Texas governor drops off migrants outside Harris’s residence in freezing weather

Isolated reports of looting in Buffalo

Monday 26 December 2022 19:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Mark Poloncarz, the executive of Erie County, said on Monday that police are investigating isolated reports of looting in the region.

“I’m heartbroken about the deaths, just absolutely devastated to see as many deaths. And then to find out that there’s looting going on in our community at the same time we’re still recovering bodies is just horrible,” Mr Poloncarz said.

ABC News reports that Daniel Neaverth, commissioner of the state Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said that more than a dozen gas stations in the county have been reported inoperable “because the convenience side of them has been looted and the equipment inside has been rendered ineffective and thus the pumps for the fueling are ineffective”.

Mr Neaverth said the looting was hampering emergency vehicles from fueling up.

“So if you don't think there's a trickle down from going looting and grabbing individual little things, this is a drastic implication for us that we now have to deal with to find alternate fuel sources,” he said.

20-year-old who vanished in frigid Minnesota is found dead

Monday 26 December 2022 18:30 , Oliver O'Connell

A 20-year-old man has been found dead after going missing in Minnesota.

The search for George Musser ended on Christmas Day at around 7pm after his body was found in Baytown Township.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Man who vanished in frigid Minnesota is found dead after massive Christmas Day search

Air travel woes continue

Monday 26 December 2022 18:23 , Oliver O'Connell

Flight cancellations continue to mount as the disruptions to timetables, routing, and crew schedules ripples on through the holiday season.

Southwest appears to be having an especially tough time having called 44 per cent of Monday’s flights, with a further 27 per cent delayed, according to data from Flightaware.com.

Death toll tops 52 nationwide, 30 in New York state

Monday 26 December 2022 18:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Per ABC News:

At least 52 people have died nationwide from the wintry weather wreaking havoc across the US over Christmas weekend.

The most deaths are in New York state, where 30 people have died in the wake of a massive lake effect snowstorm, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and local officials.

Twenty-five of New York's deaths are in Erie County, which includes the city of Buffalo, Mark Poloncarz, the executive of Erie County, said Monday. He said many of the deaths confirmed by the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office as being related to the storm were people suffering heart attacks while shoveling or blowing snow.

Driving ban remains in place in western New York

Monday 26 December 2022 17:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Teenager dies falling through ice in Virginia

Monday 26 December 2022 17:30 , Oliver O'Connell

A teenager died after falling through an icy pond in Virginia on Christmas Eve, according to authorities.

The 19-year-old man fell through the pond at the Piedmont Club golf course in Prince William County, say officials.

Graeme Massie reports.

Teenager dies after falling through ice on pond at Virginia golf course

Schumer: ‘Grieving and heartbroken’ over loss of life

Monday 26 December 2022 17:17 , Oliver O'Connell

New York Senator Chuck Schumer tweets: “I’m grieving and heartbroken for the families, friends, loved ones, and communities of all those we’ve lost to the blizzard in New York. I’m praying for them and everyone affected. [Senator Kirsten Gillibrand] and I are continuing to push FEMA to quickly deliver disaster aid to WNY.

Christmas Eve bus crash in British Columbia leaves four dead

Monday 26 December 2022 17:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Four people were killed and dozens of other passengers injured when a bus rolled over on an icy highway in Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say that the bus crashed on Christmas Eve in the interior of British Columbia.

The Mounties said that they received multiple calls on Saturday at around 6pm about the crash, which took place on Highway 97C near Merritt, BC.

Graeme Massie reports.

Four killed and more than 30 injured as bus rolls over on icy highway

New York AG tells people to stay home and report price gouging during storm

Monday 26 December 2022 16:45 , Oliver O'Connell

New York Attorney General Letitia James tweets: “My heart is with every New Yorker who has lost a loved one and been impacted from the winter storm in Western New York. As law enforcement and first responders continue to work, stay home and stay safe.”

She adds: “My office will not tolerate anyone overcharging New Yorkers for essential goods during this state of emergency. If you see any price gouging, we want to know.”

Multiple causes of death saw fatalities climbe

Monday 26 December 2022 16:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Storm-related deaths were reported in recent days all over the country, with 27 in western New York. The dead have been found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow. The storm that walloped much of the country is now blamed for at least 48 deaths nationwide, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday.

They include: 12 in Erie County, New York, ranging in age from 26 to 93 years old, and another in Niagara County where a 27-year-old man was overcome by carbon monoxide after snow blocked his furnace; 10 in Ohio, including an electrocuted utility worker and those killed in multiple car crashes; six motorists killed in crashes in Missouri, Kansas, and Kentucky; a Vermont woman struck by a falling branch; an apparently homeless man found amid Colorado’s subzero temperatures; and a woman who fell through Wisconsin river ice.

AP

South Korean tour group taken in by New York couple after van got stranded in snow

Monday 26 December 2022 16:15 , Oliver O'Connell

After their passenger van got stranded in the snow, a South Korean tour group on their way to Niagara Falls ended up spending the weekend at the Williamsville, New York, home of Buffalo-area locals Alexander and Andrew Campagna.

The group of ten — seven women and three men— including a honeymooning couple, college students, a young girl and her parents, and the driver — took refuge with the Campagnas on Friday. A well-stocked fridge and fondness for Korean cuisine saw the group able to wait out the storm in the three-bedroom home.

One of the group, Yoseb Choi, 27, told The New York Times: “It was kind of like fate,” remarking on the luck of arriving at the Campagnas’ doorstep with their fully stocked kitchen and unhesitating hospitality.

He said the hosts were “the kindest people I have ever met”.

“We have enjoyed this so much,” Mr Campagna said, calling it a “unique blessing,” and adding that the experience has inspired the couple to plan a visit to South Korea.

“We will never forget this.”

Power grid improving

Monday 26 December 2022 16:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The storm knocked out power in communities from Maine to Seattle. But heat and lights were steadily being restored across the US. According to poweroutage.us, less than 200,000 customers were without power Sunday at 3 pm EDT — down from a peak of 1.7 million. By Monday morning that number was down to 62,000.

Concerns about rolling blackouts across eastern states subsided Sunday after PJM Interconnection said its utilities could meet the day’s peak electricity demand. The mid-Atlantic grid operator had called for its 65 million consumers to conserve energy amid the freeze Saturday.

17,000 flights cancelled over holiday weekend

Monday 26 December 2022 15:52 , Oliver O'Connell

Horror weather across the US has led to nearly 17,000 flight cancellations during the Christmas period - and the holiday travel nightmares are likely far from over.

In the lead up to the big day, more than 12,000 flights within, into and out of the US were cancelled between Wednesday (21 December) and Saturday (24 December), according to data from FlightAware.

Nearly 3,200 flights were axed on Christmas Day itself, followed by another 1,721 so far on Boxing Day (26 December) as of 10am ET.

Gustaf Kilander has the full report for The Independent.

Nearly 17,000 US flights cancelled around Christmas - and chaos is far from over

A call to rescue the rescuers

Monday 26 December 2022 15:45 , Oliver O'Connell

In Buffalo, Despite a ban on road travel imposed since Friday, hundreds of Erie County motorists were stranded in their vehicles over the weekend, with National Guard troops mobilised to help with rescues hindered by blinding white-out conditions.

Authorities were expected to decide Monday morning whether to extend the ban.

County Chief Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters that snow drifts as high as eight feet on roadways were too thick and heavy to clear with conventional snow-removal equipment.

Many snow plows, tow trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles dispatched on Saturday and Sunday became stuck in the snow, “and we had to send rescue missions to rescue the rescuers,” he said.

The Buffalo police department posted an online plea to the public for assistance, asking those who “have a snow mobile and are willing to help” to call a hotline for instructions.

Reuters

Monday 26 December 2022 15:33 , Oliver O'Connell

An Ambulance is left stranded on the road following a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region on Main St. in Amherst, New York (REUTERS)
An Ambulance is left stranded on the road following a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region on Main St. in Amherst, New York (REUTERS)

Death toll climbs to 50 as thousands still without power

Monday 26 December 2022 15:22 , Oliver O'Connell

The death toll from a bomb cyclone which has wrought havoc across the United States has risen to at least 50.

Winter Storm Elliott brought temperatures as low as -50F (-45C) across a vast swathe of North America from the Great Lakes near Canada to Arizona and dumped up to six feet of snow in western New York state.

More than one million people were left without power on Christmas Day according to poweroutage.us, while tens of thousands of had travel plans disrupted due to cancelled flights and dangerous roads.

Bevan Hurley reports for The Independent.

Winter Storm Elliott death toll climbs to 50 as thousands still without power

‘The Blizzard of ‘22'

Monday 26 December 2022 15:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The greater Buffalo region, lying at the edge of Lake Erie near the Canadian border was one of the hardest-hit places as the numbing cold combined with howling winds and heavy “lake-effect” snow — the result of moisture picked up by frigid air moving over warmer lake waters — produced a storm that Governor Kathy Hochul said would go down in history as “the Blizzard of ‘22.”

The storm’s official death toll in Buffalo and elsewhere in Erie County climbed to 13 on Sunday, and was expected to rise as more bodies found in snow drifts or buried vehicles were examined and confirmed as weather-related fatalities, authorities said.

The governor called it an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster that ranked as the fiercest winter storm to hit Buffalo, New York state’s second-largest city, since a crippling 1977 blizzard that killed nearly 30 people.

The latest blizzard, which initially overwhelmed emergency crews, came nearly six weeks after a record-setting but shorter-lived lake-effect storm struck western New York.

Reuters

Harrowing conditions for the stranded

Monday 26 December 2022 15:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Freezing conditions and power outages had Buffalonians scrambling to get to anywhere with heat amid what Hochul called the longest sustained blizzard conditions ever in the city. But with streets under a thick blanket of white, that wasn’t an option for people like Jeremy Manahan, who charged his phone in his parked car after almost 29 hours without electricity.

“There’s one warming shelter, but that would be too far for me to get to. I can’t drive, obviously, because I’m stuck,” Mr Manahan said. “And you can’t be outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frostbit.”

Ditjak Ilunga of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was on his way to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario, for Christmas with his daughters Friday when their SUV was trapped in Buffalo. Unable to get help, they spent hours with the engine running, buffeted by wind, and nearly buried in snow.

By 4am on Saturday, their fuel nearly gone, Mr Ilunga made a desperate choice to risk the howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. He carried six-year-old Destiny on his back while 16-year-old Cindy clutched their Pomeranian puppy, following his footprints through drifts.

“If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids,” Mr Ilunga recalled thinking. He cried when the family walked through the shelter doors. “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”

AP

No let-up in Buffalo snow

Monday 26 December 2022 14:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Buffalo bearing brunt of storm in northeast

Monday 26 December 2022 14:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Buffalo, New York has seen some of the worst conditions of the storm over the past few days.

The city saw hurricane-force winds and snow causing whiteout conditions that paralysed emergency response efforts.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said almost every fire truck in the city was stranded on Saturday and implored people on Sunday to respect an ongoing driving ban in the region. Officials said the airport would be shut through Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 43 inches (109 centimeters) at 7 am on Sunday.

Huge snowdrifts nearly covered cars and there were thousands of houses, some adorned in unlit holiday displays, dark from a lack of power.

With snow swirling down untouched and impassable streets, forecasters warned an additional one to two feet (30 to 60 centimetres) of snow was possible in some areas through early Monday morning amid wind gusts of 40 mph (64 kph). Police said on Sunday evening that there were two “isolated” instances of looting during the storm.

Two people died in their suburban Cheektowaga, New York, homes Friday when emergency crews could not reach them in time to treat their medical conditions. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said 10 more people died there during the storm, including six in Buffalo, and warned there may be more dead.

“Some were found in cars, some were found on the street in snowbanks,” Poloncarz said. “We know there are people who have been stuck in cars for more than 2 days.”

AP

Recap: Woes from deadly winter storm continue

Monday 26 December 2022 14:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The massive storm has killed at least 34 people across the United States and is expected to claim more lives after trapping some residents inside houses and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

The extreme weather stretched from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. About 60 per cent of the U.S. population faced some sort of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures plummeted drastically below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.

The National Weather Service said Sunday the frigid arctic air “enveloping much of the eastern half of the US will be slow to moderate.”

20-year-old who vanished in frigid Minnesota is found dead

Monday 26 December 2022 14:10 , Oliver O'Connell

A 20-year-old man has been found dead after going missing in Minnesota.

The search for George Musser ended on Christmas Day at around 7pm after his body was found in Baytown Township.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Man who vanished in frigid Minnesota is found dead after massive Christmas Day search

Here comes the big warm up...

Monday 26 December 2022 14:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Freezing air will continue to dominate the eastern half of the US for the early part of the week, but a big warm-up is predicted from Wednesday onwards. By New Year’s Eve, temperatures will likely be above average for the vast majority of the continental US.

Japan also struggling with heavy snowfall and death toll

Monday 26 December 2022 13:30 , Oliver O'Connell

It’s not just North America struggling with severe winter weather.

Heavy snow in large swaths of Japan has killed 17 and injured more than 90 people and left hundreds of homes without power, disaster management officials said Monday.

Powerful winter fronts have dumped heavy snow in northern regions since last week, stranding hundreds of vehicles on highways, delaying delivery services and causing 11 deaths by Saturday. More snowfall over the Christmas weekend brought the number of dead to 17 and injured to 93 by Monday morning, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Many of them had fallen while removing snow from the roofs or were buried underneath thick piles of snow sliding off rooftops.

Read more:

Heavy snow in Japan leaves 17 dead, dozens injured

Seven dead in Buffalo from blizzard

Monday 26 December 2022 13:00 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: At least seven people have died from frigid winter weather in Buffalo, New York, with four additional deaths confirmed overnight, say officials.

“There may be more,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Sunday.

“I don’t want to say this is going to be it, because that would be a fallacy for me to say that. Because we know there are people stuck in cars for more than two days. And there are people in homes that are below freezing now temperatures.”

And he added: “I don’t have the exact total of how they were found.

“I do know that some were found in cars and some were found actually on the street in snowbanks. I offer my deepest condolences to the families, some of them probably have not been actually notified yet.”

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Heavy lake effect snow to impacting already hard-hit locations

Monday 26 December 2022 12:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The National Weather Service says travel conditions remain challenging across the Great Lakes and northwest with additional heavy lake effect snow impacting already hard-hit locations.

Hell freezes over - literally

Monday 26 December 2022 12:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The storm sweeping the US is so brutal that even Hell, a town in Michigan, froze over as several cities report the weather being the coldest since records began.

Across the US, officials have attributed deaths to exposure, car crashes, a falling tree limb, and other effects of the storm.

Here’s the latest:

Hell freezes over during US bomb cyclone

Most Buffalo residents have power restored

Monday 26 December 2022 12:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Teenager dies after falling through ice on pond at Virginia golf course

Monday 26 December 2022 12:03 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: A teenager died after falling through an icy pond in Virginia on Christmas Eve, according to authorities.

Teenager dies after falling through ice on pond at Virginia golf course

Another brutally cold day begins in the northeast

Monday 26 December 2022 11:32 , Oliver O'Connell

Another brutally cold day for New York and the northeast as freeze alerts and wind advisories reach down into the south.

Here’s ABC New York’s Sam Champion:

Coach crash in Canada injures more than 50 people

Monday 26 December 2022 11:03 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: More than 50 people have been injured in a coach crash in the province of British Columbia, Canada on Christmas Eve.

At least 53 people were hospitalised following the incident in the city of Kelowna, around 160 miles (260km) from the provincial capital of Victoria.

Premier David Eby said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the “serious” incident.

He said: “Our thoughts are with those impacted by the crash, their loved ones, and the first responders and health-care workers giving their all to treat people and keep them safe.”

‘Effects of climate change are wreaking havoc,’ says NY Governor

Monday 26 December 2022 09:04 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: “The effects of climate change are wreaking havoc everywhere,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul during a press conference on Saturday.

As storm Elliot causes major issues across the US, Ms Hochul said the zero visibility and whiteouts may make this winter storm as one of the “worst in history”.

She advised western New Yorkers to stay home and avoid travelling.

Buffalo Bills players find cars under feet of snow

Monday 26 December 2022 07:56 , Graeme Massie

Players for the Buffalo Bills returned to the storm-hit city after playing in Chicago on Saturday to find their cars under heavy snow.

PHOTOS: Buffalo hit by several feet of snow amid arctic blast

Monday 26 December 2022 07:04 , Graeme Massie

Jessica Chan of Buffalo, New York, navigates deep snow as a large winter storm, which is affecting large portions of the United States, continues to hit Buffalo, New York (EPA)
Jessica Chan of Buffalo, New York, navigates deep snow as a large winter storm, which is affecting large portions of the United States, continues to hit Buffalo, New York (EPA)
A giant tree lays across the intersection of West Delavan Avenue and Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
A giant tree lays across the intersection of West Delavan Avenue and Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Gamaliel Vega tries to dig out his car on Lafayette Avenue after he got stuck in a snowdrift about a block from home while trying to help rescue his cousin (AP)
Gamaliel Vega tries to dig out his car on Lafayette Avenue after he got stuck in a snowdrift about a block from home while trying to help rescue his cousin (AP)

Buffalo airport to remain closed until Tuesday

Monday 26 December 2022 06:03 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: Buffalo Niagara International Airport will remain closed until 11am on Tuesday because of low visibility and high winds, said the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Seven people have died in the city as parts of the US remain gripped by arctic temperatures and stormy conditions.

‘I wish we should have stayed’: Drivers stuck 34-hour traffic jam in Kentucky

Monday 26 December 2022 05:02 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said one person died in a traffic accident attributed to the weather in western Kentucky and a homeless person died in Louisville.

Along Interstate 71 in Kentucky, Terry Henderson and her husband, Rick, were stuck in a massive traffic jam caused by several accidents for 34 hours. The truck drivers weathered the wait in a rig outfitted with a diesel heater, a toilet and a refrigerator but nonetheless regretted trying to drive from Alabama to their home near Akron, Ohio, for Christmas.

“I wish we should have stayed,” said Terry Henderson, after they got moving again Saturday. “We should have sat.”

The storm was nearly unprecedented in its scope, stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. About 60% of the U.S. population faced some sort of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures plummeted drastically below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, the National Weather Service said.

As millions of Americans were traveling ahead of Christmas, more than 2,360 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled Saturday, according to the tracking site FlightAware. While in Mexico, migrants camped near the U.S. border in unusually cold temperatures as they awaited a U.S. Supreme Court decision on pandemic-era restrictions that prevent many from seeking asylum.

Forecasters said a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm — had developed near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions, including heavy winds and snow.

Anger as ‘worthless’ Texas governor drops off migrants outside Kamala Harris’s residence in freezing weather

Monday 26 December 2022 04:03 , Graeme Massie

Texas Governor Greg Abbott appears to have celebrated Christmas this weekend by ensuring that two busloads of migrants would be left in the cold outside of Kamala Harris’s residence.

John Bowden has the story.

Texas governor drops off migrants outside Harris’s residence in freezing weather

Power issues, falling trees, and car crashes cause deaths as winter storm strikes large parts of US

Monday 26 December 2022 03:09 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: The Christmas weekend storm follows another blizzard that dumped more than 6 feet (about 1.8 meters) of snow in western and northern New York, resulting in three deaths, just over a month ago. New York often sees dramatic lake-effect snow, which is caused by cool air picking up moisture from the warm water, then releasing it in bands of windblown snow over land.

On the Ohio Turnpike, four died in a massive pileup involving some 50 vehicles. A Kansas City, Missouri, driver was killed Thursday after skidding into a creek, and three others died Wednesday in separate crashes on icy northern Kansas roads.

A utility worker in Ohio was also killed Friday while trying to restore power, a company said. Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative said the 22-year-old died in “an electrical contact incident” near Pedro in Lawrence County.

A woman in Vermont died in a hospital Friday after a tree broke in the high winds and fell on her. Police in Colorado Springs said they found the dead body of a person who appeared to be homeless as subzero temperatures and snow descended upon the region. In Madison, Wisconsin, a 57-year-old woman died Friday after falling through the ice on a river, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office announced.

In Lansing, Michigan, an 82-year-old woman died after being found Friday morning curled up in the snow outside of her assisted living community, Bath Township police reported. A snowplow driver found the woman as temperatures hovered around 10 degrees.

Family set up GoFundMe after Buffalo man died on street in frigid temperatures

Monday 26 December 2022 02:02 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: William Clay, 56, who was also known as Romello, reportedly froze to death on a Buffalo street on his birthday.

“Hi My Name is Sophia. I am the sister of the gentleman that lost his life during the 2022 Blizzard on 12/24/2022. My brother unexpectedly lost his life on his Birthday. I am humbly asking for donations to bury my brother. And amount will be greatly appreciated,” the GoFundMe states.

 (GoFundMe)
(GoFundMe)

VIDEO: Passengers trapped on Via Rail trains running between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto

Monday 26 December 2022 01:06 , Graeme Massie

What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?

Monday 26 December 2022 00:04 , Graeme Massie

ICYMI: Strong winds and sub-zero temperatures are causing chaos across the US, with millions without power and thousands stranded on Christmas.

At least 18 people have been killed during storm Elliot and forecasters are now warning of a ‘bomb cyclone’ – but what does that mean?

Louise Boyle has more.

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

VIDEO: ‘Surfing Santas’ hit the waves at Cocoa Beach amid Florida freeze

Sunday 25 December 2022 23:05 , Graeme Massie

1,700 flights cancelled on Christmas Day

Sunday 25 December 2022 20:43 , Graeme Massie

The wild winter weather has now seen more than 1,700 flights cancelled in the US on Christmas Day, according to FlightAware.

More than 125,995 households still without power

Sunday 25 December 2022 20:15 , Graeme Massie

According to poweroutage.us, as of 12pm PST, there were still more than 125,000 households in the US without power.

18 dead and 1.6 million without power in US’ coldest Christmas ever

Sunday 25 December 2022 18:14 , Graeme Massie

America is facing its coldest Christmas on record as large parts of the country suffer from ice storms, whiteouts and  sub-zero temperatures.

At least 1.6 million people were without power on Christmas Day, thousands were stranded at airports and train stations and at least 18 people were killed during storm Elliot.

The National Weather Service described the storm as “one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever”.

Louise Boyle has the full story.

US freezes in coldest Christmas in memory as 1.6m without power, thousands stranded

More than 175,000 utility customers still without power

Sunday 25 December 2022 16:45 , Graeme Massie

More than 175,000 utility customers across the US remained without power on Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us. That number is down from around 1.5 million on Friday.

Meanwhile, more than 1,400 flights were cancelled in the US as of Sunday morning, according to Flightaware.com. That number is down from the 3,488 flights cancelled on Saturday.

 (AP)
(AP)

Thousands of flights grounded as winter storm death toll rises to 18

Sunday 25 December 2022 16:32 , Graeme Massie

Temperatures fell to as low as -40C in some areas, Graig Graziosi reports.

Thousands of flights grounded as winter storm death toll rises to 18

Satellite imagery shows storm Elliot’s path across US

Sunday 25 December 2022 14:30 , Furvah Shah

Satellite imagery is showing how storm Elliot is pummelling the US from coast to coast.

At least 18 people have died, thousands are stranded due to travel disruptions and millions are without power as North America faces it’s coldest Christmas on record.

Images from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) show how the storm is stretching from Canada all the way to Florida.

Andrea Blanco and Louise Boyle have the full story.

Satellite images show winter storm Elliot’s deadly path through the US

Storm death toll rises to 18

Sunday 25 December 2022 14:00 , Furvah Shah

At least 18 people have now died in a major winter storm pummelling the US over Christmas.

The death toll rose by one on Christmas Day, as the arctic conditions have left travellers stranded and cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country.

VIDEO: Despite freezing bitter cold temperatures, last-minute Christmas shoppers layer up and shop

Sunday 25 December 2022 13:30 , The Independent

Sunday 25 December 2022 09:30 , Peony Hirwani

At least 17 people have died in multi-vehicle pileups on perilous roads and from medical emergencies after first responders struggled in Storm Elliott’s blizzard conditions.

PHOTOS: More than 800 runners dressed as Santa take part in Florida race

Sunday 25 December 2022 09:00 , Gustaf Kilander

More than 800 runners dressed as Santa Claus braved near freezing temperatures to participate in the Run Run Santa 1 Mile Saturday Dec. 24, 2022 in Viera, Fla (AP)
More than 800 runners dressed as Santa Claus braved near freezing temperatures to participate in the Run Run Santa 1 Mile Saturday Dec. 24, 2022 in Viera, Fla (AP)
More than 800 runners dressed as Santa Claus braved near freezing temperatures to participate in the Run Run Santa 1 Mile Saturday Dec. 24, 2022 in Viera, Fla (AP)
More than 800 runners dressed as Santa Claus braved near freezing temperatures to participate in the Run Run Santa 1 Mile Saturday Dec. 24, 2022 in Viera, Fla (AP)

265,000 North Carolinians out of power as of Saturday afternoon

Sunday 25 December 2022 08:00 , The Associated Press

In North Carolina, 265,000 customers were without power Saturday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us. They included James Reynolds of Greensboro, who said his best friend and housemate, a 70-year-old with diabetes and severe arthritis, spent the morning bundled beside his kerosene heater.

“The bedrooms and much of the house temperatures are hovering in the 50s,” Reynolds told The Associated Press.

In the Buffalo, New York suburb of Cheektowaga, two people died in their homes on Friday when emergency crews could not reach them in time to treat their medical emergencies, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“This may turn out to be the worst storm in our community’s history,” Poloncarz said Saturday morning. “There are still likely hundreds of people stuck in vehicles.”

Colleen Darby, 59, of Williamsville outside Buffalo, says she had planned to host a Christmas party for family and friends, but the storm will keep her and her daughter at home with a refrigerator full of food.

“I’ve never seen the likes of this kind of storm,” said Darby, a lifelong resident of the area. “I can’t even get out of my house right now. The snow is up to my chest.”

US freezes in its coldest Christmas in memory as 1.6 million without power

Sunday 25 December 2022 07:30 , Peony Hirwani

America is facing its coldest Christmas in living memory as swathes of the country suffer ice storms, whiteouts and ferocious subzero winds.

Tens of millions of people on the east coast faced the holidays with the threat of rolling blackouts after grid operations ran into trouble from the frigid conditions. Yesterday, 1.6m customers in states from Texas to Connecticut were without power.

Read more:

US freezes in coldest Christmas in memory as 1.6m without power, thousands stranded

VIDEO: Snow squalls, blizzard conditions continue in Ontario, Quebec

Sunday 25 December 2022 07:00 , The Independent

Frigid weather doesn’t stop Santas surfing off Florida coast

Sunday 25 December 2022 06:00 , The Associated Press

For the surfing Santas off Florida’s central coast, the Atlantic Ocean felt more like the North Pole than the Sunshine State as temperatures on Saturday morning plunged to around freezing, while freeze warnings were in place for at least half of the state.

Parts of the Florida Panhandle had wind chills that dipped into the single digits on Saturday morning, and interior parts of central Florida had temperatures plunging as low as 27 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2.7 Celsius degrees).

“It’s a frigid start to your #ChristmasEve across the area,” the National Weather Service in Tallahassee tweeted.

Miami was among the last holdouts of warm weather in the U.S. on Friday, but by Saturday morning temperatures had dipped to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) for the first time in almost a year. South Floridians were on the watch for falling iguanas. The cold-blooded reptiles that reside in Miami suburbs typically become immobilized when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 Celsius degrees).

Surfer Corey Howell in a space man Surfing Santa suit, rides with waves with other surfing Santas for the 14th annual Surfing Santas of Cocoa Beach event Christmas Eve morning, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Surfer Corey Howell in a space man Surfing Santa suit, rides with waves with other surfing Santas for the 14th annual Surfing Santas of Cocoa Beach event Christmas Eve morning, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)

Despite the frigid temperature, the 14th annual Christmas Eve Surfing Santas festival was held Saturday morning at Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast.

The event has grown from 10 surfers dressed in Santa costumes when it started in 2009 to hundreds of participants on surfboards, boogie boards and paddle boards in years past. Close to 140 surfers braved the frigid water Saturday morning. Almost 10,000 spectators showed up to cheer them on, and a beachside restaurant distributed free hot cocoa to help them stay warm, according to organizers.

What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?

Sunday 25 December 2022 05:30 , Peony Hirwani

Forecasters in the US are also warning of the potential for a “bomb cyclone” – but what does this mean?

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

PHOTOS: Winter storm covers US in feet of snow

Sunday 25 December 2022 05:00 , Gustaf Kilander

Lyla Kelly plays with her dog Maggie in the snow during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region in East Amherst, New York, U.S. December 24, 2022 (via REUTERSH)
Lyla Kelly plays with her dog Maggie in the snow during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region in East Amherst, New York, U.S. December 24, 2022 (via REUTERSH)
Hoak's restaurant is covered in ice from the spray of Lake Erie waves during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region in Hamburg, New York, U.S. December 24, 2022 (via REUTERSH)
Hoak's restaurant is covered in ice from the spray of Lake Erie waves during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region in Hamburg, New York, U.S. December 24, 2022 (via REUTERSH)
A winter storm rolls through Western New York Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Amherst N.Y. (AP)
A winter storm rolls through Western New York Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Amherst N.Y. (AP)

Arctic cold air freezes large parts of US to a standstill

Sunday 25 December 2022 04:00 , The Associated Press

An arctic blast has brought extreme cold, heavy snow and intense wind across much of the U.S. — just in time for the holidays.

The weather system, dubbed a “bomb cyclone,” is disrupting travel and causing hazardous winter conditions.

A front of cold air is moving down from the Arctic, sending temperatures plunging.

Much of the U.S. will see below-average temperatures, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

Temperatures may drop by more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) in just a few hours, the National Weather Service predicts.

Wind chill temperatures could drop to dangerous lows far below zero — enough to cause frostbite within minutes. In parts of the Plains, the wind chill could dip as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 57 Celsius).

Those in the Plains, the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes were cautioned to expect blizzard conditions as heavy winds whip up the snow, according to the National Weather Service.

VIDEO: Freezing temperatures create ‘ice palace’ in Central Florida backyard

Sunday 25 December 2022 03:00 , The Independent

‘Effects of climate change are wreaking havoc everywhere,’ NY Governor says

Sunday 25 December 2022 02:00 , Gustaf Kilander

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said during a press conference on Saturday that “it’s very clear to me that the effects of climate change are wreaking havoc everywhere”.

She said the zero visibility and whiteouts may make this winter storm as one of the “worst in history”.

She noted that Buffalo broke its previous record of snowfall from 1977 a month ago already.

PHOTOS: Travellers stuck in airports as winter storm batters US and Canada

Sunday 25 December 2022 01:00 , Gustaf Kilander

Surfers make their way out to Lake Ontario to surf the waves created by a major winter storm, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Surfers make their way out to Lake Ontario to surf the waves created by a major winter storm, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Travellers wait on hold as they try and speak with their respective airlines at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as a major winter storm disrupts flights in and out of the airport, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Travellers wait on hold as they try and speak with their respective airlines at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as a major winter storm disrupts flights in and out of the airport, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Luggage bags are amassed in the bag claim area at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as a major winter storm disrupts flights in and out of the airport, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
Luggage bags are amassed in the bag claim area at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as a major winter storm disrupts flights in and out of the airport, in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 (AP)
A winter storm rolls through Western New York Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Amherst N.Y. (AP)
A winter storm rolls through Western New York Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Amherst N.Y. (AP)

Ohio crash: 46-vehicle pileup leaves at least four dead in winter storm

Sunday 25 December 2022 00:00 , Graig Graziosi

Four people are confirmed dead and a number of others have been injured in a 46-vehicle pile-up during Winter Storm Elliott.

The deadly crash happened in whiteout conditions on Friday afternoon in the eastbound lane of Ohio Turnpike I-75 in Erie County, according to highway patrol.

Pictures of the massive crash showed semi-trucks with crumpled front ends and trucks stacked up on the roofs of mangled cars.

None of the victims have been identified. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a statement on Friday offering his condolences to the victims’ families. Governor DeWine and other public officials are pleading with the public to rethink travel plans.

“The road conditions continue to be very dangerous across the state, with white outs and extremely cold temperatures continuing. Please continue to remain home if at all possible and be vigilant with these extremely dangerous road conditions,” he wrote.

Read more:

Ohio crash: 46-vehicle pileup leaves at least four dead in winter storm

EXPLAINER: Arctic blast sweeps US, causes bomb cyclone

Saturday 24 December 2022 23:00 , The Associated Press

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

It all started farther north, as frigid air collected over the snow-covered ground in the Arctic, Ryan Maue, a private meteorologist in the Atlanta area, said.

Then the jet stream — wobbling air currents in the middle and upper parts of the atmosphere — began pushing this cold pool down into the U.S.

As this arctic air is pushed into the warmer, moister air ahead of it, the system can quickly develop into serious weather — including what’s known as a “bomb cyclone,” a fast-developing storm in which atmospheric pressure falls very quickly over 24 hours.

These severe weather events usually form over bodies of water, which have lots of warmth and moisture to feed the storm, Maue said. But with the huge amount of cold air coming through, we could see a rare bomb cyclone forming over land.

IS THIS NORMAL?

The storm is definitely a strong one, but “not unheard of for the winter seasons,” Bob Oravec, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland, said.

It’s pretty normal to have cold air build up in the winter. This week, though, shifts in the jet stream have pushed the air more to the southeast than usual, Oravec said — sweeping the freeze across the country and making storm conditions more intense.

The U.S. probably won’t reach record-breaking lows, like those seen in the cold snap of 1983 or the polar vortex of 2014, Maue said.

Still, “for most people alive, this will be a memorable, top-10 extreme cold event,” Maue said.

Water pressure ‘fluctuating’ in Jackson amid frigid weather

Saturday 24 December 2022 22:30 , The Associated Press

Officials in Jackson, Mississippi, said the city’s water system, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing “fluctuating” pressure on Saturday afternoon amid frigid temperatures.

“Both of our water plants are functioning, so crews are now working to determine what is causing the fluctuation,” Melissa Payne, a city spokesperson, said in a news release. “As crews are working to stabilize things, frigid temperatures are hampering their efforts.”

Some residents in Mississippi’s capital city may temporarily experience low water pressure, officials warned. Leading up to the “arctic blast” that brought dangerously cold air to Jackson, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba warned that the city’s the water distribution system remained a “huge vulnerability.”

“We are in no position to promise that sustained arctic temperatures won’t impact the water system and other infrastructure,” Lumumba said at a Monday news conference. “We are going to prepare for the worst, but pray for the best.”

The potential for further disruptions to Jackson’s water system comes just months after the city of about 150,000 residents lost water in late August.

The water system fell into crisis after flooding exacerbated longstanding problems in one of two water treatment plants. Most of Jackson lost running water for several days, and people had to wait in lines for water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets.

VIDEO: Arctic front bringing ‘dangerous cold,’ freezing temperatures for Christmas in Florida

Saturday 24 December 2022 22:00 , The Independent

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

Saturday 24 December 2022 21:40 , Louise Boyle

An Arctic blast is sweeping the United States, impacting swathes of the country this holiday season with a miserable mix of dangerous cold, blinding snow squalls and flash freezing.

The powerful winter storm will produce widespread, disruptive and potentially crippling impacts across the central and eastern United States between now and Christmas Eve, the National Weather Service warned.

Forecasters are also warning of the potential for a “bomb cyclone” – but what does this mean?

The weather phenomenon is technically called bombogenesis and whether it occurs all depends on how quickly the pressure drops.

As the jet stream pushes very cold air down from the Arctic and into the US, this mass of frigid air bumps up against the warmer air ahead of it.

And if the atmospheric pressure falls rapidly over a period of 24 hours, it can become a serious storm otherwise known as a “bomb cyclone”. They typically occur over water due to the high levels of warmth and moisture so it will be a rare event if a bomb cyclone happens over land.

Read more:

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

Unprecedented number seek shelter in region where thousands live outside

Saturday 24 December 2022 21:20 , The Associated Press

Emergency weather shelters in Portland, Oregon, called for volunteers amid high demand and staffing issues as a winter storm bringing snow, freezing rain, ice and frigid temperatures descended upon the area.

An unprecedented number of people are seeking shelter in a region where thousands live outside, and many staff members have been unable to make it to their shifts because of dangerous road conditions or illness, officials said.

Nearly 800 people slept at the city’s five emergency shelters on Thursday night, said Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, spokesperson for Multnomah County, which is home to Portland.

“The largest number of people that I’ve ever seen have come into shelter,” she said. “We are trying to get more support. We have the experts in charge, but this is for helping folks with meals, wheelchairs, getting them to the right spot.”

The shelters will remain open until Saturday.

Hell freezes over in Michigan

Saturday 24 December 2022 20:50 , Gustaf Kilander

Hell has literally frozen over as the Michigan town was struck by the winter storm that has killed at least 15 people across the US so far.

Temperatures dropped to -45 C in Montana on Friday and -23 C on Saturday in northern Minnesota.

The area west of Detroit, where the town of Hell is located, saw temperatures around -8 C on Saturday.

Power grid operator urges consumers to save energy

Saturday 24 December 2022 20:30 , Gustaf Kilander

The power grid operator overseeing 13 states has urged consumers to conserve power as it issued a warning that rolling blackouts may become necessary.

PJM Interconnection serves 65 million residents in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

“Conserving electricity as much as possible between the hours of 4 a.m. on December 24, 2022, and 10 a.m. on December 25, 2022, will help ensure adequate power supplies,” the company said in a statement.

“CPJM continues to carefully monitor the power supply conditions. It will do everything possible to keep power flowing in the region. If necessary, PJM may take additional steps, such as reducing voltage. PJM is coordinating efforts among generators, power suppliers and local utilities,” the company added.

Warnings issued power outages in parts of US could last for days

Saturday 24 December 2022 20:10 , The Associated Press

Across the six New England states, almost 400,000 electric customers remained without power on Saturday morning, with some utilities warning it could be days before power is restored. In North Carolina, more than 415,000 customers were without power, according to poweroutage.us.

The emergency call for system-wide conservation from Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection advised residents to set thermostats lower than usual, to postpone use of major appliances like stoves and dishwashers and to turn off nonessential lights. Commercial and industrial power users have also been asked to cut back. Utility officials said simultaneous increased demand across its electric system came as some power plants are having difficulty operating in the extreme cold. They warned of rolling blackouts.

“It’ll be short-lived, we’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but it is a real possibility,” said Mike Bryson, PJM’s senior vice president for operations. It covers all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Power demand hit record-high in Tennessee

Saturday 24 December 2022 19:50 , Gustaf Kilander

The demand for power has broken all previous records in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) supplied a record 740 gigawatt-hours over the last 24 hours.

“We know that asking for power conservation is challenging, especially during the holidays, and we appreciate everyone’s assistance and patience,” TVA’s chief operating officer Don Moul said in a statement. “TVA and local power companies continue to do everything possible to minimize any disruptions while ensuring that the overall power grid remains reliable.”

Hundreds stuck in cars in Erie County, New York

Saturday 24 December 2022 19:30 , Gustaf Kilander

Hundreds of people remain stuck in their cars in Erie County, New York as the winter storm continues.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told CNN that “it’s probably somewhere in the vicinity of a couple hundred now, based on the numbers we’ve seen”.

“That’s down dramatically from 500 or more in the overnight hours,” he added.

“There is a driving ban that’s going on for the whole county, and there’s a reason why, it’s because conditions are still so dire that you can easily get stuck, and then you are taking resources off the road when you really need it,” he said.

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