Winter storm covers half of US

A fearsome storm has spread a smothering shroud of white over nearly half the US, snarling transportation, burying parts of the Midwest under 2ft of snow and causing at least 12 deaths.









Tens of millions of people stayed at home. The hardy few who ventured out faced howling winds that turned snowflakes into face-stinging needles. Chicago's 20in of snow was the city's third-largest amount on record.



The storm that resulted from two clashing air masses was rare for its size and ferocious strength.



"A storm that produces a swath of 20in snow is really something we'd see once every 50 years - maybe," National Weather Service meteorologist Thomas Spriggs said.



Across the storm's path, lonely commuters struggled against drifts up to 4ft deep in eerily silent streets. Parkas and ski goggles normally reserved for the slopes became essential for getting to work.



Although skies were beginning to clear by mid-afternoon over much of the country's mid-section, the storm promised to leave a blast of bitter cold in its wake. Overnight temperatures in northern parts of the Midwest were expected to fall as low as minus 30C, with wind chills dropping to minus 35C.



The 12 fatalities included a homeless man who burned to death on New York's Long Island as he tried to light cans of cooking fuel, and a woman in Oklahoma City who was killed while being pulled behind a truck on a sledge that hit a railing.



Airport operations slowed to a crawl across the US, and flight cancellations reached 13,000 for the week, making this system the most disruptive so far this winter. A massive post-Christmas blizzard led to about 10,000 cancellations.



In the winter-weary north east, thick ice caused several structures to collapse, including a filling station canopy on Long Island and an airplane hangar near Boston. In at least two places, workers heard the structures beginning to crack and narrowly escaped.



More than half a dozen states began digging out from up to a foot of snow that made roads treacherous and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.



Chicago schools cancelled classes for a second straight day, and the city's iconic Lake Shore Drive remained shut down, nearly a day after drivers abandoned hundreds of snowbound vehicles.



Elsewhere, utility crews raced to restore power to many thousands of homes and businesses in Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where freezing rain and ice brought down electrical lines. Rolling blackouts were implemented across Texas, due to high demand during a rare ice storm.



In Canada, heavy snow cancelled about a quarter of the 1,200 scheduled flights at Toronto's international airport, closed schools, and caused dangerous driving conditions due to drifting snow.



The storm derived its power from the collision of cold air sweeping down from Canada and warm, moist air coming up from the south.



The contrasts were most dramatic in Texas earlier in the week, when one part of the state reported temperatures below freezing and another part had temperatures around 20C with near-tropical humidity.



Louis Uccellini, director of the government's National Centres for Environmental Prediction, said the storm also drew strength from the La Nina condition currently affecting the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence