To survive the ice storm that has killed close to thirty people throughout the United States, trapped some inhabitants inside their houses with towering snow drifts, and cut electricity to several hundred thousand homes and businesses, millions of Americans hunkered down overnight and early this morning.
The storm’s size has been almost unheard of, spanning from the Rio Grande near the Mexican border to the Great Lakes near Canada.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures fell below average from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, affecting around 60% of the country’s population.
As of early Sunday, 1,346 domestic and international flights have been canceled, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
Forecasters reported that a bomb cyclone, which occurs when atmospheric pressure rapidly decreases during a powerful storm, had formed close to the Great Lakes, causing blizzard-like conditions, including severe winds and snowfall.
According to officials, hurricane-force winds and snow caused by the storm paralyzed emergency response efforts in Buffalo, paralyzing the airport into Monday and creating whiteout conditions. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul claimed practically every fire engine in the city was stranded.
According to the National Weather Service, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport has 43 inches of snow as of 7 a.m. Sunday.
Emergency personnel could not reach three victims Friday in suburban Cheektowaga, New York, in time to treat their medical issues, while one died in Buffalo.
Overnight, a further four deaths were verified, bringing the total for Erie County to seven.
There could be more fatalities, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
According to Poloncarz, “some were found in cars, while some were located on the street in snowbanks.” “We know some passengers have spent more than two days stranded in their vehicles.”
Buffalo residents were frantically trying to leave their houses and find somewhere with heat because of the freezing conditions and day-old power outages.
Power was lost due to the storm in towns from Maine to Seattle. But across the United States, heat and lighting were gradually being restored.
Less than 300,000 customers were without power Sunday morning, down from a peak of 1.7 million, according to poweroutage.us.
In the past few days, storm-related fatalities have been reported across the nation: seven in Erie County, New York; six in Ohio, including four in a pileup on the Ohio Turnpike involving about 50 vehicles, a man whose sport utility vehicle struck a snowplow, and an electrocuted utility worker; four drivers killed in separate accidents in Missouri and Kansas; a woman struck by a falling branch in Vermont; a homeless man discovered in the bitter cold of Colorado.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Florida plummeted into the 20s and 30s in other areas of central Florida for the first time in nearly five years at Tampa International Airport.
West Palm Beach, in South Florida, experienced a low of 43 degrees.
Iguanas fell off trees due to the temperature dip since the cold-blooded reptiles frequently become immobile in freezing weather.