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Historic winter storm turns deadly, more than 1.1 million customers without power, U.S.

goes-east 1450z december 24 2022 bg

A massive and historic winter storm affecting much of the United States has left at least 37 people dead from December 21 to 24, 2022, and more than 1.1 million customers without power.

  • Dangerous cold temperatures continue for the eastern two-thirds of the country on December 24 as significant lake effect snow, along with blizzard conditions, persists downwind of the Great Lakes. 
  • Blizzard Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, Winter weather Advisories and High Winds Warnings blanket much of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast
  • Early Friday morning, December 23, over 240 million people in the United States were under some form of winter weather warning or advisory, marking one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever recorded in the United States1

Three people have died in weather-related car crashes in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol told CNN on Friday, December 23.2

In Kansas City, Missouri, one person died after their vehicle slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek, first responders in Kansas City Police Department said.

Four people died in car crashes in Ohio, where others also were injured, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The Tennessee Department of Health on Friday confirmed one, storm-related fatality.

Wisconsin State Patrol on Thursday reported one fatal crash due to winter weather.

Kentucky reported three deaths caused by the storm – two in car crashes and another was a person who was unhoused in Louisville, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

goes-east 13z december 24 2022 bg
Image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 13:00 UTC on December 24, 2022

Destructive winds in excess of 130 km/h (80 mph) tore down power lines, leaving more than 1.1 million customers without power, as of 13:40 UTC on December 24 — 458 840 in North Carolina, 294 124 in Tennessee, 237 386 in Maine, 91 084 in Alabama and 74 720 in New York.

More than 15 000 flights were canceled or delayed on December 23 alone.

A robust low pressure system lifting north and east through southeast Canada will continue to produce lake effect snowfall and snow across the Interior Northeast, NWS forecaster Campbell noted.3

Due to the tight pressure gradient from this system there will be strong/high winds that will cause blowing and drifting of the newly falling snow and that already on the ground.

Blizzard Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, Winter weather Advisories and High Winds Warnings blanket much of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast.

Enhancement from the ice-free Great Lakes will aid in producing totals from 60 to 12 cm (2 – 4 feet) in favored snow belts. Even where lesser accumulations occur, heavy snow rates combined with wind gusts of 60+ km/h (40+ mph) will result in blizzard conditions.

In some spots, the wind gusts could approach or exceed 95 km/h (60 mph) resulting in damage and power outages.

Extremely Dangerous Travel with Whiteout Conditions where blizzard conditions occur, expect periodic whiteouts with near-zero visibility and considerable blowing and drifting of snow. Traveling in these conditions will be extremely dangerous, to at times impossible.

The Arctic blast that has been felt by a large portion of the country will spread to the eastern states, producing dangerously cold wind chills across much of the central and eastern U.S. this holiday weekend.

The life-threatening cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers that become stranded, individuals that work outside, livestock and domestic pets.

If you must travel or be out in the elements, prepare for extreme cold by dressing in layers, covering as much exposed areas of skin as possible and pack winter safety kits in your vehicles. In some areas, being outdoors could lead to frostbite in minutes. Ensure outdoor animals and livestock have sufficient shelter.

Coastal and inland flooding threats for the Northeast from heavy rain falling onto a melting snowpack will enhance flooding impacts. Moderate to isolated major coastal flooding is forecast due to strong onshore winds.

Updates

December 26

The death toll nationwide rose to at least 49, as of late December 26. 27 people died in New York, 2 in Colorado, 3 in Kansas, another 3 in Kentucky, 1 in Missouri, 9 in Ohio, 1 in Tennesee, and 1 in Wisconsin.

New York authorities said the death toll may rise because some people have been trapped in cars for more than two days.

December 30

The number of fatalities in Erie County, New York rose to 39 on December 29. Poloncarz said 17 people were found outside, 11 were in homes, 4 were in cars, 4 died while shoveling or snow blowing, and 3 were the result of an inability of emergency responders to reach them in time.

The number of fatalities nationwide rose to 61.

References:

1 Immense winter storm places 60% of U.S. under winter weather warnings or advisories – one of the greatest extents ever recorded – The Watchers – December 23, 2022

2 A powerful winter storm claims at least 13 lives across the US as temperatures plunge, winds howl and power lines fall – CNN – December 24, 2022

3 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 258 AM EST Sat Dec 24 2022

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, Zoom Earth, The Watchers. Acquired at 13:00 UTC on December 24, 2022

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