Flights cancelled, traffic chaos leaves at least four dead in Canada and United States | will it snow in florida

More than 240 million people have been put under an extreme weather alert as a deep freeze thwarted travel plans, knocked out power and caused at least four deaths across North America.

Hard-freeze warnings were posted in parts of the southern US states of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

In Kentucky, two people were killed in car accidents and a homeless person died, Governor Andy Beshear announced.

“Please stay home and stay safe,” he said on Twitter.

About 1.5 million US homes and businesses were without power on Friday, according to tracking site

About 187,000 customers were without power in North Carolina alone, where strong winds have hampered restoration efforts.

A 50-vehicle traffic pile-up on the Ohio Turnpike in the midst of a blizzard near Toledo killed one motorist, injured several others and shut down both lanes of the highway, according to the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department.

Numerous crashed cars on a road
The Ohio Turnpike is seen closed in both directions after a massive pile-up blocked traffic near Sandusky.(Reuters: TMX/@MIKEWALDRON115)

Numbing cold intensified by high winds extended to the US-Mexico border, bringing single-digit wind chill temperatures to the border city of El Paso, Texas.

Farther north, heavy snowfall was forecast in parts of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, including upwards of 35 inches in Buffalo, Weather Service meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook said.

Thousands of flights cancelled

The extreme weather disrupted households and holiday plans just days before Christmas.

Severe winds, ice and snow up-ended commercial air traffic during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

More than 4,000 US flights were cancelled Friday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. About 500 flights into or out of Seattle’s major airport were axed as a separate storm system brought ice and freezing rain to the Pacific North-west.

Buffalo-area officials in New York instituted a driving ban.

A person walking a dog next to a flooded river
A woman walks her dog past flood waters along the Hudson River shore in Nyack, New York.(Reuters: Mike Segar)

“If there’s any good news, it’s that the storm has moved quickly over some areas,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC.

Many airports, such as Denver, are expected to bounce back quickly from a wave of delays and cancellations. Other hubs like Chicago could recover later on Friday, he said.

Last-minute holiday gift purchases may also have slim chances of reaching their destinations by Christmas, according to Fedex, due to disruptions at hubs in Tennessee and Indianapolis.

‘Bundle up’

Weather forecasters said the blizzard over the Midwest had formed into a “bomb cyclone” — a phenomenon that occurs when the air pressure drops drastically within a 24-hour period and speeds up a storm’s intensity.

It could produce blinding snow from the northern Plains and Great Lakes region to the upper Mississippi Valley and western New York state.

The Weather Service said along the east coast, rain and westerly winds pushing sea water to shore could cause 3 feet of coastal flooding, with flash freezing and black ice possible.

Two people covering their faces in the rain
Shoppers contend with wind and rain during a powerful winter storm in Freeport, Maine.(AP: Robert F. Bukaty)

The lowest temperature in the US on Friday morning was recorded in Havre, Montana, registering -38 degree Celsius.

But forecasters predict some relief over the next days. In Montana and across the northern Rockies and High Plains, temperatures could rebound by 40 to 60 degrees over the weekend.

For now, meteorologist Mr Cook said: “Bundle up and stay indoors if you can, and check on your neighbours.”

A car driving on a road with fallen power lines in the background
Streets flooded at high tide in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (Reuters: Brian Snyder)

Significant storms hit Canada

Strong winds, freezing rain and heavy snowfall closed schools, cut power to homes and cancelled flights across Canada as a powerful winter storm swept across the country, prompting authorities to warn people to stay indoors ahead of worsening conditions.

The storm is connected to the same freezing weather system that has enveloped much of the United States.

A person with a beanie holding a small dog in a jacket
The cold bites on Bloor Street West during a winter storm in Toronto.(Reuters: Carlos Osorio)

The storm was expected to affect about two-thirds of all Canadians as it moves across Canada’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, toward Atlantic Canada, said Environment Canada meteorologist Steve Flisfeder in Toronto.

“Every winter we expect storms [but] this one is significant,” he said.

“We’re seeing differing weather types that are all leading to different impacts … affecting a very large population base in a short time span.”

Canada’s second-largest carrier WestJet Airlines proactively cancelled all flights at airports in Toronto, Ottawa and the province of Quebec. The largest carrier, Air Canada, also warned of delays and cancellations.

A plane with waves crashing over it
Several flights have been cancelled at Canada’s busiest airport, Toronto’s Pearson.(Reuters: Carlos Osorio)

Nearly 320 flights on Friday were cancelled at Canada’s busiest airport, Toronto’s Pearson, with another 200 delayed, according to FlightAware.

Alberta, Canada’s main cattle-producing province, was under extreme cold warnings from Environment Canada.

In Ontario, stormy weather reduced transport of cattle to feedlots and slaughter plants, but the holiday season is slow anyway, said Jack Chaffe, who runs a 2,000-head feedlot.

The power utility in Canada’s capital city Ottawa said it had restored electricity for nearly 100,000 customers and was working to fix outages for 9,000 more. In Quebec, nearly 270,000 were without electricity on Friday afternoon.

A woman in the snow with a dog
Alycia Burns and her dog Pluto make the most of the Toronto snow. (Reuters: Carlos Osorio)

Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Kerry Schmidt said police had received reports of up to 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions that have closed off a major highway near London, Ontario.

“The wind and snow is blowing in and today is going to be a tough day for a lot of drivers,” Mr Schmidt said on Twitter.

“The best place is off the highway.”

In the Pacific province of British Columbia, the storm brought several inches of snow overnight before transitioning to freezing rain and ice pellets, forcing the closure of key bridges and roads.

A pile of damaged cars in the snow
Vehicles involved in multiple collisions are seen along the  corridor near London, Ontario, Canada.(Reuters: OPP West Region)

Conditions there are expected to continue changing as temperatures rise and bring heavy rainfall throughout Saturday and into Sunday, said Terri Lang, an Environment Canada meteorologist.

“It’s going to be kind of a sludgy, sloppy Christmas, it looks like,” Mr Lang said.


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