A generic image of a residential home covered in snow and ice. CCO Public domain photo.
28 Dec 2022

Once-in-a-generation snowstorm hit North America - people were dying in their cars


Storm Elliot has killed more than 60 people along the east coast of North America, and left hundreds of thousands without power. 

It has been called a  "bomb cyclone", which is when atmospheric pressure is quickly lowered. This time, it brought large amounts of snow, strong winds and freezing temperatures.

According to BBC World, nearly 250 million were  affected, andmore than 60 deaths have been linked to the storm that extends more than 2,000 miles (3,200km) from Quebec in Canada to the state of Texas in the US. 

More than 55 million people were under wind chill alerts on Christmas Day morning, and freeze warnings were  in effect across the South. 

About 60 per cent of the U.S. population faced some sort of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures plummeted drastically below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, the National Weather Service said.

 Around 1,707 domestic and international flights were cancelled on Sunday as of about 2 p.m. ET. By then, more than 5,900 US flights were already cancelled on Friday, according to the tracking site FlightAware,.

According to Reuters news agency, 1,8 million households and businesses  were initially reported without power at one point during the Christmas holiday, but by Christmas Day that number was down to 150 000. 

The city of Buffalo was hit the hardest, with 1,5 meters of snow ( 5 feet) and at least 28 people died tin Buffalo alone. Many were found in their cars, some in snow drifts outside. Some were found in their homes, unable to leave. 

The western US state of Montana was the worst hit by the cold, with temperatures dropping to -50F (-45C).

In South Dakota Native American tribal leaders were appealing for urgent help when snowed-in communities run out of vital supplies. Some snow drifts were allegedly as tall as residential homes, and stretched out for up to  65 meters (200 feet).  

On Wednesday December 28, the death count was at 62 people in 10 US states. 

As more snow was  expected on Tuesday December 27, the US military was called in to stop people from entering the highways. Despite ban on driving, many people defined the ban in efforts to go home after the Christmas holidays. 

According to CNN, winds on Tuesday , were above 100 mph  (160 kmph / 45 meters per second) in some cities, reaching Category 2 hurricane levels. A gust of 107 mph was reported in Mount Hood, Oregon, and a 104-mph gust was recorded in North Bonneville, Washington. Wind speeds between 80 and 90 mph were reported Tuesday in several cities, including a gust of 90 mph in Walker, California.


Cover Photo (Above):  A generic image of a residential home covered in snow and ice. (Not related to Storm Elliot).  CCO Public domain photo. 
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