Deadly Winter Storm Sweeps U.S. Accounts For At Least 24 Lives Lost Over Holiday Weekend

 December 26, 2022

On Christmas morning, millions of Americans woke to confront damage from the frigid winter storm that has now killed at least 24 persons. While denying power to hundreds of thousands of private residences and businesses, conditions have forced some inside their homes behind record-breaking snow drifts.

From the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico, this historic weather event is stretching, with an estimated 60 percent of the population, facing some sort of winter weather advisory or warning.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS), temperatures plummeted drastically below normal, from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. Reportedly power outages limited the response of households struggling to keep warm as temperatures plummet. Further, a lack of power has been hampering rescue efforts.

Facing problems of a different kind, Christmas travelers were thrown into chaos as the latest numbers, according to the tracking site FlightAware, show more than 2,360 domestic and international flights had been canceled by Saturday. Massive transportation challenges ensued, as air carriers tried to accommodate shocked and often stranded travelers.

In a nightmare of rescheduling, rerouting and or delaying of flights, as the storm forced major travel routes across the U.S. and abroad to come to a halt, both the airline industry and travelers were sent into a tailspin of collaboration during one of the busiest seasons of the year. In an effort to reassure travelers stranded at airports, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York, Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s Transportation Secretary, late Saturday tweeted-

 “the most extreme disruptions are behind us as airline and airport operations gradually recover.”

- Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s Transportation Secretary

The weather pattern created when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm, is what forecasters call a bomb cyclone. It had developed near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions, including heavy winds and snow. According to the Associated Press, storm-related deaths were reported in recent days all over the country.

These storm related deaths occurred in a variety of circumstances. Reportedly, an Ohio Turnpike pileup of some 50 vehicles saw at least four dead, an Ohio utility worker was electrocuted, a Vermont woman was struck by a falling branch, an apparently homeless man was found amid Colorado’s subzero temperatures, four motorists were killed in separate crashes in Missouri and Kansas, and a woman died falling through Wisconsin river ice.  According to the Associated Press, the death toll from the storm had risen from 18 to 24 come mid-morning on Christmas Day. Chaos on the roads, causing multiple pileups on a dozen or so major routes across the country, is said to be responsible for this rise in the death toll.

As the massive winter storm smashed the majority of the country, for a few days, featuring strong sub-zero wind chills and major snow accumulation, reportedly, here is a sampling of how the nation was affected-

  • With temperatures dropping to -50F, Montana was the worst hit by cold.
  • Near white-out conditions were reported in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.
  • The NWS reported “zero mile” visibility in Buffalo, New York.
  • Record freezing In the Pacific Northwest, reportedly saw residents ice-skating on frozen streets in Portland and Seattle.
  • Cross-country Interstate 70, was temporarily shut down, in parts of Colorado and Kansas due to road ice and white-out conditions
  • The battering winter storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the United States on Saturday.
  • Governor Kathy Hochul, in hard-hit New York state, deployed the National Guard to Erie County and its main city Buffalo, because emergency services there essentially collapsed, in the extreme blizzard conditions.

As America slowly recovers from this monster storm, with all of its’ disruptions and losses, may we not lose sight of the fact that despite our best efforts, we ultimately do not control the weather - at its best or worst. Finding peace to ride this out this storm can come only from inner strength and the collective effort to care for those in need. America has always shown, that it can rise to this kind of a challenge, anywhere. Now is the time to focus on those who need help right here at home.

“Serenity isn’t the peace away from the storm, it’s the peace at the eye of the storm.”

-Ed Martin Cruz
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