At least 17 people were killed, more than 700,000 homes were without power and thousands of airline passengers were stranded across the country on Saturday after a powerful winter storm created a pre-Christmas nightmare.
Record cold has gripped the US with whiteout conditions in some areas and gale-force winds in others – while a “bomb cyclone” battered parts of the country.
A “bomb cyclone” is created when atmospheric pressure drops rapidly in a severe storm.
Pittsburgh, Charleston, SC and Washington, DC were expected to hit record lows for Christmas Eve.
Fargo, ND., was forecast to be the coldest place in the country for Christmas.
The death toll from the massive storm — which stretched from the Great Lakes to the Mexican border — included one person in the Big Apple and three in Erie County, where hard-hit Buffalo was expected to get up to 4 feet of snow. Monday.
“It’s life-threatening what’s happening as we speak in Buffalo,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday, noting that nearly every fire truck in that city was stuck in the snow.
In Ohio, four drivers were killed and many others injured in a 50-vehicle pileup during a storm near Toledo. In neighboring Kentucky, three more weather-related fatalities were confirmed — two from car accidents and a homeless person who died of exposure.
An 82-year-old Lansing, Mich., woman died after she was found curled up in the snow outside her assisted living community Friday morning, local police said.
The massive amount of snow raised flooding concerns in many states, including North Dakota and Nevada.
Power grids across the country were strained, with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies 10 million people in parts of seven states, saying Friday it supplied more power than ever in its 89-year history.
Residents in 13 states served by Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection were asked to refrain from unnecessary use of electricity with a possibility of ongoing outages.
Airlines were stranded with 2,800 US flights canceled and another 6,600 delayed on Saturday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
A man stranded at John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday on his way from Detroit to Istanbul called it “the worst travel experience of my life.”
“We have not received hotel accommodation, nothing,” said Amal Hammoud, 27. “We only came here to miss our next flight, even though we were three hours early.”
A delayed United Airlines flight to Newark landed in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, with passengers waiting at least another hour on the runway as the overhead compartment of the plane began to leak.
At Kennedy Airport on Saturday, frustrated traveler Amy Sarr, 37, who works in media and events, was trying to get home to see her family in Senegal. She said she flew to New York from Washington, DC, on Friday and rushed to her connecting flight to Senegal only to sit on the plane for four hours before learning she couldn’t take off.
“Of course we were hungry and needed to eat … and someone fainted. Like, literally,” she said.
After sleeping at the airport, she hoped to catch another flight on Saturday night. “I’m already missing half of Christmas, which is sad. I just miss being around the kids and being around my parents and just the warmth of Christmas,” she said.
A photographer trying to get to Chicago from Detroit tweeted his frustrations.
“So @Delta y’all literally delayed our flight for four hours just to cancel it. And this is my 2nd canceled flight to Chicago,” photographer Jeremiah Hunnus posted after midnight on the eve of Christmas, sharing a video of roughly a dozen confused passengers. “This is not acceptable…. And I’m not well.”
Some tried to make the best of it.
“Our flight out of Portland tomorrow has been cancelled,” moaned Rob Glover, a political science professor at the University of Maine, shared a photo of a plate of chili cheese fries. “So instead of jetting off to the Caribbean, we’re drowning our sorrows in cheese and gravy.”
There was no relief for those who managed to make it south with frigid temperatures in Florida meaning iguanas were at risk of “freezing” and falling from trees.
In Texas, the Houston Humane Society rescued 138 frozen bats from the Waugh Street Bridge after they froze in place on Thursday.
“For Christmas to be this cold, it’s historic in some areas, especially in the South,” said FOX Forecast Center meteorologist Stephen McCloud. “It doesn’t get this cold this early.”
He said the main storm system was slowly moving further north into Canada, which will continue to bring snow to the Great Lakes region into Tuesday.
Upstate New York, including Buffalo, was expected to see another foot to two feet of snow, while Michigan was likely to get anywhere from 3 to 8 inches.
by postal wire