At the height of the Christmas season, a winter storm hits the United States. This is the biggest cold and snowstorm in recent decades, which mainly affects the Midwest of the country. The thermal sensation can reach in these places up to -55 °C during the weekend, as the National Weather Service (NWS) has warned.
So far, at least 13 people have died in weather-related deaths in the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Ohio as the “bomb cyclone” hit the country.
The country is preparing for the coldest Christmas in decades, which is why 135 million people have already been put on alert.
More than 200 million Americans were under weather advisories as wind chills sent temperatures as low as -55 Fahrenheit (-48 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
The weather forecast calls for temperatures as low as -40°C in the north of the country by noon Friday and below freezing near the Texas coast.
In this context, almost a million Americans were left without electricity due to the storm and must cope with the frost without heating services.
Authorities warned that conditions are very dangerous for traffic and that it is a “historic winter storm” and added that at least three people died from the storms: two in Kentucky and one in Missouri, due to car accidents and landslides. houses, and at least two others on a route in Oklahoma, according to the agency in charge of emergency management in this state.
Million Americans were without electricity
Almost a million Americans were without electricity this morning, especially in the southeast of the country (Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Connecticut), according to the specialized site Poweroutage.us.
In North Dakota, the main routes are closed “due to snow and wind, with zones of almost non-existent visibility and ice,” said state authorities, who advised travellers not to go out on the routes in these conditions.
The National Weather Service warned that as the powerful Arctic front continues to “sweep across the eastern third of the nation,” impacts on travel should also be expected, particularly at one of the busiest times of the year for Americans. Christmas.
Officials in Erie County, New York, issued a travel ban Friday morning, and only emergency personnel and those previously authorized are allowed to drive. In addition, travel alerts have been issued for Niagara, Genesee and New Orleans counties.
The storm system reached “bomb cyclone” characteristics, with cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York and Atlanta with wind gusts exceeding 90 kilometres per hour.
100 million travellers
These weather conditions will be “very dangerous” for travel, the NWS warned. On Wednesday, strong winds and snowfall threatened to cause delays at Minneapolis airports and slow air traffic in Denver and Chicago, the US aviation authority, the FAA, warned.
But starting Thursday, millions of Americans are expected at airports across the country, with a holiday season expected to be “busier” than 2021, back “to pre-pandemic levels,” according to the Home Security Administration of Transportation (TSA).
United Airlines has asked its customers to check the status of their flights, and even to change them “free of charge.” The roads also promise to be busy, since some 102 million people will have to drive to where they will spend the holidays, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
In total, some 112 million people will have to travel at least 80 km between December 23 and January 2, according to this organization, the third highest figure since this began to be counted in 2000.
Cold weather watches stretching from the Canadian border to the Texas Gulf Coast have already been issued in parts of at least 26 states, according to the NWS. The snow is not the most worrying thing about this storm, but the cold and the winds.
The heaviest snowfall is forecast in the Great Lakes region between Wednesday night and Friday, with just over 12 inches of snow expected.
In February 2021, a freezing cold hit Texas in particular, causing a spike in power consumption followed by massive power outages that lasted several days.
This time, the meteorological services sought to be reassuring in this state: temperatures in Texas are expected to be less low and of shorter duration than during that episode.