US storm: Death toll reaches 62; temperature plunges in Florida
The "blizzard of the century" ravaging the United States (US) has reportedly claimed the lives of 62 people. Buffalo is the worst hit, as people froze to death in their cars and homes. Some died while shoveling snow while others lost their lives as emergency crews couldn't respond in time. The temperature in Florida—one of the hottest states—plunged to -2.7 degrees Celsius.
Why does this story matter?
- Last week, the weather departments in the US issued warnings for an impending 'bomb cyclone', likely to spoil the holiday season by triggering a "once-in-a-generation" arctic storm.
- Thousands of flights had to be canceled and homeless shelters were overflowing as the temperature dropped to as low as -45 degrees Celsius in some areas.
- It was said to affect around 135 million people.
Thousands suffer without electricity in Washington, other cities
Authorities expect to find more bodies when the snow is cleared or melts. Over 4,000 homes and businesses were without power on Tuesday as power outages persisted from Maine to Washington. A driving ban was enforced in Buffalo—New York's second-most populous city—on Tuesday. Of the 62 deaths, over 30 were reported from the New York region, surpassing the toll of 1977's historic blizzard.
Grim visuals from affected areas
WATCH: #BNNUS Reports.— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) December 27, 2022
A number of drivers were reportedly found dead in their cars in #Cheektowaga between State highway Route 240 and 33 after being left stranded on snow-covered highways and interstates. #US #blizzard2022 #Environment pic.twitter.com/Ubbd7Znl5T
Vehicles damaged in snow
Brakes proved ineffective against sheets of snow as even parked vehicles slid down the lane and got damaged. Drivers on some highways were spotted using chains and snow tires. The National Weather Service (NWS) said wind speeds were recorded at 193 kmph on Sierra ridge tops in Nevada's Reno. It issued avalanche warnings for parts of the mountain range.
US government to hold Southwest Airlines accountable for canceling flights
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled over 5,400 flights, far more than other operators, a day after most US airlines recovered from the winter storm. President Joe Biden said the company would be "held accountable" and the US government would investigate the cause for its lagging so far behind others. The owner of the low-cost carrier said it needed to upgrade its legacy airline systems.