‘Once-in-a-generation’ winter storm wallops US
A massive winter cyclone touted as a “once-in-a-generation” storm by meteorologists, has knocked out electricity service to millions of Americans and forced cancellations of nearly 14,000 US flights amid the hectic holiday travel season.
Winter Storm Elliott has pounded more than half of the US this week, leaving upward of 1.4 million homes and businesses without power as of midday on Friday, according to PowerOutage.US. The storm grounded about 7,800 flights on Friday after forcing 6,000 cancellations on Thursday. Airlines have already canceled 2,400 flights for Saturday and Sunday, and over 48,000 flights have been delayed since Thursday, FlightAware tracking data showed.
The storm brought sharp plunges in temperatures as an enormous cold front raked across the US and met up with warmer air to the east. Heavy rains fell in some areas ahead of the front, leading to a flash-freeze that brought down power lines and made roads treacherous. High winds and heavy snow brought blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Great Lakes regions.
Temperature variations were dramatic on opposite sides of the front. For instance, it was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 Celsius) in Boston around 2pm on Friday, compared with minus one degree in Pittsburgh.
The temperature plunged to minus 24 in Denver, a 30-year low, and wind chills slid to minus 50 in parts of Montana. Freezing temperatures reached as far south as the southern tip of Texas, and areas such as western New York were forecast to get as much as three feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
FedEx and UPS warned that Christmas packages may arrive late because of the storm.