Published On: Mon, Dec 26th, 2022

Freezing temperatures and heavy snow kill 50 as huge storm wallops U.S.

The huge winter storm that has already killed 50 people in the United States looked set to continue wreaking havoc into Monday with plummeting temperatures and huge snow drifts trapping people inside their homes and snarling travel across the country.

The full brunt of the storm was being felt in western parts of New York, which had become a “warzone,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday, with looting incidents and roads blocked by emergency vehicles.

A “band of heavy lake effect snow” in the Buffalo area was producing two to three inches of hourly snowfall, with accumulations reaching six to 12 inches and as much as one to two feet for Jefferson and northern Lewis counties, the National Weather Service said in its 6:43 a.m. bulletin.

Stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border, the storm has killed at least 50 people as of Monday morning, according to an NBC News tally. The deaths were recorded in 12 states: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. 

“Lake effect” is when when cold air passes over the unfrozen and warmer lake water, causing moisture and warmth being transferring to the lower parts of the atmosphere. The air then rises to form clouds, resulting in intense snowfall.

Earlier, Buffalo police, confirming a total of 10 deaths in the city, said on Sunday that people had died “outside and in cars.” The toll had risen to 14 in the city on Monday morning, a spokesperson for the city of Buffalo told NBC News.

Blinding blizzards and freezing rain have also knocked out power supply for thousands of residents across New York state, with 15,000 people in the Buffalo National Grid remaining without electricity, said Hochul. 

“Restoration may not occur until Tuesday,” she said. 

Thousands of service crew had been deployed to deal with the emergency, which was probably “the largest mobilization of utility crews in the history of the state,” she said. 

Temperatures have plummeted below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. More than 1,200 flights had been canceled by early Monday, with at least 500 delayed, according to the tracking website FlightAward, trapping holiday-travelers in airports across the country.

The National Weather Service said “hazardous travel conditions” were expected to continue over the next few days and that they would slowly ease over New Year.

“Much of the eastern U.S. will remain in a deep freeze through Monday before a moderating trend sets in on Tuesday,” it said in a 2:56 a.m. bulletin.

“The life-threatening cold temperatures and in combination with dangerous wind chills will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers that become stranded, individuals that work outside, livestock and domestic pets,” the National Weather Service said in an earlier bulletin.

Meanwhile, the western parts of the country were also bracing for an incoming storm, with forecasters warning of a “potent surge of moisture” into the Pacific northwestern and California on Tuesday, threatening flash floods.

In a tweet, the weather service said that cold and snow will become “distant memories” for Chicago as temperatures are expected to rise throughout the week, anticipating pouring rain

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