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Climate and Environment

A Dangerous Storm Disrupts Travel And Knocks Out Power Across The US

A color-coded map of the U.S. shows bitterly cold temperatures across almost all of the nation, with exceptions only in southwest and southern Florida.
The forecast highs for Christmas Eve
(Courtesy National Weather Service)
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The massive, deadly winter storm bringing whiteout blizzards, stinging winds and frigid temps well below average to much of the U.S. continues to cause Christmas weekend travel havoc, power outages to hundreds of thousands and warnings from officials about potentially life-threatening conditions.

In LA
  • If you're headed to the airport Christmas Eve, check your flight status. Winter storms around the country are still impacting flight plans. As of early Saturday, 53 flights have been cancelled out of LAX with another 100 experiencing delays.

  • In better news, the local weather forecast remains one of the few nice spots in the U.S.

    • Warm Weather Puts A Bow On The Holiday Season For LA While Much Of The Nation Shivers


The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center said weekend "temperatures will be 25 to 35 degrees below average from east of the Rockies to the Appalachians."

The weather forecast agency warned of dangerous wind chills across central and eastern parts of the U.S., and said the severe weather "will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers that become stranded, individuals that work outside," livestock and pets.

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The NWS also forecast lake-effect snow downwind from the Great Lakes as well as "heavy mixed precipitation to impact the Pacific Northwest and the Northern High Plains" over the weekend.

At least six people were reportedly killed in vehicle crashes, with at least four dead in a massive pileup on the Ohio Turnpike involving about 50 vehicles.

The storm, spanning from the Great Lakes to Texas and from the Northwest to New England, subjected about 60% of the U.S population, or more than 200 million people, to winter weather advisories or warnings on Friday.

The arctic blast brought conditions to parts of the South not seen in a quarter century. In Nashville, temperatures fell below zero on Friday for the first time since 1996.

At least 1 million customers were still experiencing electricity outages across the U.S., according to PowerOutage.com.

WPLN's Blake Farmer reported that as the front hit, parts of the South experienced wind chills of minus 20 degrees, and gusting winds knocked out power to thousands of homes across Tennessee and Kentucky. Emergency responders asked people in the region to stay home if possible.

Meanwhile, WPLN's Paige Pfleger reported that plunging temperatures are putting pressure on a power grid not accustomed to this cold, and that the Tennessee Valley Authority has asked local utilities to cut their electricity use. Customers in Nashville will experience 10-minute outages every few hours, until the power load stabilizes.

Scott Aaronson, vice president of security and preparedness at the Edison that getting the power restored in weather like this is a significant challenge.

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"Sometimes accessing these areas can be really challenging with downed power lines, with downed trees, with very icy roads. ... Crews cannot go up in bucket trucks if the wind is higher than 35 miles an hour," Aaronson said. "And so those combination of things will limit the ability of crews to get out there and get the power back on."

In New Jersey, heavy rains and high winds downed power lines and sent floodwaters surging as high as 9 feet along the coast. Interior locations along the Hudson River also flooded.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul asked people in the state to wait until Sunday to travel because road conditions would remain dangerous through Saturday.

"This is a life-threatening dangerous event," Hochul said Friday afternoon at a news conference in Albany. "Protect yourselves, protect your families. Do not travel until the roads are reopened, that you know it's safe."

The storm is causing havoc for holiday travelers across the U.S, with nearly 1,500 flight cancellations so far Saturday morning, according to FlightAware. That follows nearly 6,000 cancellations and more than 11,000 delayed flights on Friday.

FlightAware's Kathleen Bangs said Friday that the average delay was 68 minutes and delays have been stranding passengers.

"So that, unfortunately, really affects anyone who's got a connecting flight, and we're going to see a lot of people missing connecting flights with these long delay times," Bangs said.

Reporting from Bruce Konviser, WPLN's Paige Pfleger and Blake Farmer, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly and David Schaper and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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