At Least 38 Dead As Winter Storm Chaos Sparks Driving Bans, Flight Cancellations Top 1,400
Disruptions to Christmas Day travel continued into the early morning of Dec. 26, with Boxing Day flight cancellations topping 1,400 as much of the United States reels from the impact of a powerful winter storm.
By 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 26 there were 1,418 flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States, and 736 delays, according to FlightAware data.
Christmas Day, typically a light day for travel, saw a total of 3,182 canceled flights within, into, or out of the United States, while delays totaled a whopping 6,924.
At least 38 people have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have been left without power this Christmas as Storm Elliott—termed a “once in a generation” storm by some forecasters—swept through much of the United States and parts of Canada, bringing with it freezing temperatures, flash floods, and blizzards.
Thirty-four deaths occurred in the U.S., with four other recorded in Canada after a bus rolled over on an icy roadway in Merritt, British Columbia.
Other deaths were reported in Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Vermont and Colorado, the BBC noted.
The storm is expected to moderate slowly, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), with much of the eastern part of the country forecast to remain in “deep freeze” through Boxing Day.
“Arctic air enveloping much of the eastern half of the U.S. will be slow to moderate,” states the latest NWS weather advisory, issued just before 3 a.m. New York time on Dec. 26.
“Much of the eastern U.S. will remain in a deep freeze through Monday before a moderating trend sets in on Tuesday.”
While the eastern part of the country has been gripped by an unusually cold snap, much of the western United States will be milder than the seasonal average over the next few days.
A fast-moving low pressure system will deliver snow across the Northern Plains to the Midwest through Dec. 26, while lake-effect snows downwind from the Great Lakes will become less intense over time.
The West Coast is expected to face increasingly stormy weather, according to the NWS, as the fast-moving low pressure system rolls in. By Tuesday, a much stronger low pressure system is forecast for the Pacific Northwest and into California, bringing an “even more potent surge of moisture” along with a risk of flash flooding.
Ahead of the holiday weekend, over 240 million people within the United States, or around 73 percent of the population, were under some kind of winter weather advisory or warning. This included 181 million people under wind chill warnings or advisories, over 11 million for blizzard warnings, 58 million for winter storm warnings, and over 500,000 for ice storm warnings.
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, who had lost power and heat with a baby at home across town during a blizzard in Buffalo, N.Y., on Dec. 24, 2022. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)
Buffalo saw hurricane-force winds and snow causing whiteout conditions that paralyzed emergency response efforts.
Freezing conditions and power outages left many Buffalonians scrambling to get somewhere warm amid what New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the longest sustained blizzard conditions ever in the city.
“This will go down in history as Buffalo’s most devastating storm,” Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday, according to the BBC.
“It is [like] going to a war zone and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking.”
But by Monday morning, the winter storm warning had been cancelled for Northern Erie and Southern Erie, including the cities of Buffalo, Orchard Park, and Springville, though a winter weather advisory remains in effect there until 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Travel could be very difficult. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute,” the NWS said of Erie County, New York, where up to 12 more inches of snow is expected.
A driving ban was imposed in Erie County amid icy conditions on the road, with an update as of 7 a.m. on Monday showing some communities no longer under the ban but remaining under a driving advisory.
This is the most up to date map of the current driving ban and driving advisory locations in Erie County. Please remember, these maps may need to be changed or updated as situations evolve. pic.twitter.com/2OJRr0hui3
— Erie County, NY (@ErieCountyNY) December 26, 2022
A winter storm warning remains in effect until Tuesday 1 p.m. for Jefferson and Lewis counties in New York, where additional snow accumulations of up to two feet are expected and wind gusts as high as 35 mph are forecast.
Mon, 12/26/2022 – 09:30