Powerful Winter Storm Leaves 19 Dead, and nearly 2 Million Without Power
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – At least 19 people were killed, and nearly two million customers were without power as America’s coldest Christmas Eve winter storm in living memory paralyzed the nation.
Authorities said energy systems across the country were strained by rising demand for heat- and storm-related damage to transmission lines.
Some 1.8 million U.S. homes and businesses were reportedly left without power early Saturday, prompting electric companies to ask customers to conserve energy. Households were urged not to run large appliances and to turn off unneeded lights ahead of Christmas.
The disruptions also upended daily routines and holiday plans for millions of Americans during one of the year’s busiest travel periods. Many stranded passengers faced the prospect of spending Christmas at airports.
Airline cancellations topped 5,700 US flights on Friday, followed by another 2,100 on Saturday due to the dangerous winter weather.
Among stranded passengers were people at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where airlines delayed their flights multiple times or canceled them.
Christopher Fulton, a holiday traveler, told local broadcaster 11Alive that he was planning to “stay positive” as he experienced back-to-back delays in Atlanta on his journey home to Florida.
“Since I’ve been sitting here, a couple of people’s flights have been canceled,” Fulton told the station. “It sucks for them because Christmas is on Sunday, and they won’t be home to their families in time. It’s heartbreaking.”
Blizzards, whiteouts, icy rain, and freezing, powerful winds stretched from the Canadian border south to the Rio Grande, Gulf Coast, and central Florida and from the Pacific Northwest to the Eastern Seaboard.
The wind chill was driving temperatures to minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) in some parts of western states, contributing to a rising death toll.
Of the 19 people known to have died, at least eight people were killed in weather-related crashes in Ohio, the state’s highway patrol said.
The victims included four people killed in a multi-car pileup of about 50 vehicles on the Ohio Turnpike, the 241 miles (388 kilometers) long toll highway that serves as a critical corridor between the cities of Chicago and Pittsburgh.
Earlier in Kansas City, Missouri, a driver was reportedly killed Thursday after skidding into a creek.
Additionally, three others died Wednesday in separate crashes on icy northern Kansas roads.
In Canada, WestJet canceled all flights Friday at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as meteorologists there warned of a potential once-in-a-decade weather event.
In Mexico, migrants camped near the U.S. border in frigid temperatures as they awaited a U.S. Supreme Court decision on pandemic-era restrictions that prevent many from seeking asylum.
As cold weather spread, millions in and near the United States faced a whiter Christmas than they bargained for, with more weather-related misery expected.
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