The winter storm in the United States has claimed at least 34 lives and is expected to take more lives as citizens wait out the storm inside their houses, some without power.
The US did not expect the storm to worsen, with its scope almost covering a majority of states in the US. According to weather bureaus, more than 60% of the Us population received storm signals and intense weather advisories. The storm affected several areas, from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande and the Mexican border. Several regions experienced a sudden drop in temperatures below the normal one that the regions have during this time of year. Many experts and citizens have come to call this the bomb cyclone.
“Bombogenesis, a popular term used by meteorologists, occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone,” writes the National Ocean Service.
Meanwhile, airlines project major losses and dozens of flight cancelations in light of the intense storm. Last Sunday, airline companies canceled more than 1,700 flights. And this trend will continue as the storm worsens over several areas in the United States. This unprecedented weather condition will mean revenue losses among airlines that expect a bounce back in ticket sales over the holidays.
“It’s all hands on deck to ensure our customers are cared for during the holiday travel season, including when severe weather hits. Critical to our preparations was sizing the airline for the resources we have available and operating conditions we face, as well as being able to react quickly to get our customers on their way once the weather clears,” said American in a press release.
“We are seeing a lot of strength for the holidays or approaching the Thanksgiving time period, and our bookings are incredibly strong. However, the bookings are a little bit different this year, and they’re more spread out across multiple days than they were on any single day,” said United Airlines chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella months ago.
“We see airfare to those top destinations, the ones with the highest demand at the holidays, are much higher than they typically are at this time of year. And they’re only going to increase from here,” Hopper lead economist Hayley Berg explained.
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The storm hindered crucial operations
Packing strong winds and thick snow, the storm wreaked havoc in many areas, including Buffalo. According to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, the storm hampered rescue operations and emergency response efforts. Fire trucks and other government utility vehicles could not reach their target locations because the snow blocked the roads. Moreover, the snowfall and winds make it hard for drivers to maneuver along the streets. The National Weather Service reported that as of Sunday, snow in Buffalo is standing at 43 inches or 109 centimeters.
The storm also caused some power lines to shut down, pressuring households to fend for themselves without support from critical agencies, which are also helpless in the face of impassable streets. The fear also increases as reports have already come in that more snow will fall in several areas, with winds reaching up to 40 miles per hour. In addition, the storm claimed the lives of two people in Cheektowaga, New York, after authorities and medical crews could not reach patients needing immediate medical attention.
“Some were found in cars, some were found on the street in snowbanks. We know there are people who have been stuck in cars for more than two days,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
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Residents battling the storm
Poloncarz also said that because authorities have not done a thorough search in all areas, it may be possible that there are more unrecorded deaths. The storm in Buffalo is the worst they have seen in decades. Without power and scrambling to wait out the intense storm, some residents, like Jeremy Manahan, are left helpless.
“There’s one warming shelter, but that would be too far for me to get to. I can’t drive, obviously, because I’m stuck. And you can’t be outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frostbit,” Manahan said.
Others have braved the storm to survive. Ditjak Ilunga from Maryland drove from his house to visit her relatives in Hamilton, Ontario. But the storm had them stranded in Buffalo. Trapped inside his SUV with his daughters, Ilunga tried to get help but was unable to. Almost a day later, and without any more fuel to keep the engine running, he forcefully got out of the car, unto the raging storm, and took his 6-year-old and 16-year-old daughter to a nearby emergency shelter.
“If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids. It’s something I will never forget in my life,” he said.
“Please check your businesses and churches for leaks and broken pipes, as these add up tremendously and only worsen the problem. We understand the timing is terrible,” announced Jackson, Mississippi officials.
Photo Credit: Reuters