BUFFALO, New York (AP) — Millions of people hunkered down against a deep freeze Sunday morning to ride out the frigid storm that has killed at least 24 people across the United States and is expected to claim more lives after trapping some residents inside houses with heaping snow drifts and knocking out power to several hundred thousand homes and businesses.
The scope of the storm has been nearly unprecedented, stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. 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.
Some 1,346 domestic and international flights were cancelled as of early Sunday, according to the tracking site FlightAware.
Forecasters said a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm — had developed near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions, including heavy winds and snow.
The storm unleashed its full fury on Buffalo, with hurricane-force winds and snow causing whiteout conditions, paralysing emergency response efforts — New York Gov Kathy Hochul said almost every fire truck in the city was stranded Saturday — and shutting down the airport through Tuesday morning, according to officials. The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 43 inches (109 centimetres) at 7:00 am Sunday.
Daylight Sunday revealed cars nearly covered by six-foot snowdrifts and thousands of houses, some adorned in unlit holiday displays, dark from a lack of power. With snow swirling down untouched and impassable streets, forecasters warned that an additional one to two feet of snow was possible in some areas through early Monday morning amid wind gusts of 40 mph.