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the “historic” storm deprives 1.5 million homes of electricity

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As millions of Americans flood the roads and airports for the holiday season, the country wakes up Saturday from a historic snowstorm that caused extensive damage: 1.5 million American homes without electricity, thousands of canceled flights, closed highways and sometimes fatal accidents.

It is a phenomenon as rare as it is intense. The day after a day disrupted by a winter storm of rare power, the United States approach the Christmas holidays, Saturday, December 24, in more than special conditions. In total, about 1.5 million American homes were without power on Friday, and thousands of flights were canceled.

Down to -48°C in places

Described as “historic” by the US Weather Service (NWS), the storm generated heavy snowfall, icy gusts, and temperatures dropping to -48°C in places, capable of transforming boiling water into droplets of ice in an instant.

Friday morning, more than 240 million people, or 70% of Americans, were affected by alerts or calls for caution in the United States.

The phenomenon caused chaos in transport. A tile as millions of Americans flood the roads and airports for the holiday season.

In New York State, a travel ban has been issued in Erie County. “We stay at home (…) I can’t see on the other side of the street” because of the snow, said Jennifer Orlando, affected by this ban in the city of Hamburg.

Because of the accident of a vehicle against a power line, she found herself without power for about four hours, she said.

Up to around 1.5 million homes were deprived of electricity on Friday, notably in North Carolina, Maine and Virginia, according to the specialized site Poweroutage.us. On Friday evening, they were still a million in the dark.

In El Paso, Texas, shelters have been opened so that migrants from Mexico can protect themselves from the risk of hypothermia in the freezing temperatures. But many are too suspicious to accept the offer and many of them are “simply sleeping rolled up in blankets”, 56-year-old volunteer Rosa Falcon told reporters.

5,500 flights canceled

Friday evening, the specialized site Flightaware listed 5,500 canceled flights in the United States, the airports most affected being those of Seattle, New York, Chicago or Detroit.

Several states have declared states of emergency, such as New York, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina. With visibility close to zero, the blizzard and frost affecting much of the country, the roads have become very dangerous

>> See also: In pictures: the United States paralyzed before Christmas by a storm of rare intensity

“People should stay home, not venture out on the roads,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear warned CNN. “Your family wants to see you home for Christmas, but most of all they want to see you alive.”

He confirmed that three people had died on Kentucky roads. In Oklahoma, at least two people died on the road, according to the agency in charge of emergency management in that state.

In Ohio, a massive collision of about 50 vehicles on a highway killed at least one person, according to local media. In Michigan, traffic on a highway was cut Friday mid-morning due to an accident involving nine tractor-trailers.

“low pressure bomb”

This storm of rare intensity is caused by a “low pressure bomb”: a powerful conflict between two masses of air, one very cold from the Arctic and the other tropical from the Gulf of Mexico, aggravated because the pressure atmosphere fell very quickly, in less than 24 hours.

This type of storm occurs “only once in a generation”, according to the US National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Canada must also face this phenomenon, with extreme cold, storm and even blizzard alerts issued for a large majority of the territory.

But in Toronto, the freezing temperatures didn’t put off Jennifer Campbell, who came to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in the city center.

“We have big storms regularly and we adapt,” evacuated this tourist from Ontario. “We are Canadians, it’s our way of doing it.”

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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