'Bomb cyclone' hits US on Christmas, more than 200 million affected

Governor of New York Kathy Hochul described the storm as 'one of the worst in history.'
Baba Tamim
Ice covers Hoaks restaurant along the Lake Erie shoreline on December 24, 2022 in Hamburg, New York.
Ice covers Hoaks restaurant along the Lake Erie shoreline on December 24, 2022 in Hamburg, New York.

John Normile/Getty Images 

A powerful "bomb cyclone" has hit the United States, causing at least 200 million people to be under a winter weather alert.

Temperatures are predicted to plunge -57 degrees Celsius in certain locations due to the largest winter storm to hit the country in decades, according to several media reports on Sunday. 

"At least 28 people have died," and the "blizzard conditions have left almost 300,000 homes and businesses without power as temperatures plunge to well below freezing," Sky News reported

"More than 3,000 flights were canceled on Saturday, with some airports closed."

The meteorological word "bombogenesis" refers to an atmospheric pressure drop of at least 24 millibars within a 24-hour period, which is referred to as a bomb cyclone. This indicates that a storm is rapidly intensifying, which might have more disastrous impacts than a storm that is lesser.

All modes of transportation have been affected, including planes, trains, and automobiles. And authorities issued advisories against non-essential travel due to the icy conditions on the roadways, and hundreds of individuals who did venture out ended up trapped in their cars.

The "bomb cyclone" has not just hit major areas of North America but from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in the south; all remain affected. 

Winds gust at 90 mph 

The National Weather Service in Montana issued a warning that up to 20.3 cm of snow and 90 mph gusts might fall on the eastern slope of Glacier National Park and the neighboring foothills and plains.

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Earlier in the storm, Montana recorded a temperature of -45.6C (-50F), while the isolated hamlet of Havre, also in Montana, recorded a low of -39C yesterday (38F).

While several other states have encouraged residents to reduce their usage to prevent rolling blackouts, more than 107,000 properties in Maine are without power, and utility executives have cautioned that it might take days for supply to be fully restored.

Homeless at higher risk than ever 

One electricity provider informed its 65 million consumers across 13 states that the weather and the high demand were making it difficult for the power facilities to run, said Sky News. 

Due to a temporary 30% reduction in gas supply from one of its suppliers due to a pipeline equipment breakdown, another power firm advised customers to raise their thermostats from 15.6C to 16.7C.

There are urgent efforts to supply firewood to some Native American tribes who live in remote places, as well as emergency shelters for people who are homeless or don't have power at home.

Severe weather shelters in Portland, Oregon, distributed tents and tarpaulins to residents while the shelters were closed due to a break in the harsh weather.

According to officials, more than 1,100 individuals visited the city's five emergency weather shelters in need of warmth.

'Worst storm' in History

Deep snow, cold temperatures, and power outages in Buffalo, New York, prompted residents to look for churches, police stations, and other buildings that could have heating.

National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 43 inches (109 centimeters) at 7 am on Sunday.

As a result of the heavily snow-covered, abandoned cars and downed power lines on the highways, ambulance trips to hospitals now take more than three hours, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. 

Governor of New York Kathy Hochul described the storm as "one of the worst in history."

"It's essentially a category 3 hurricane with a bunch of snow mixed in. It's been like that for the past 24 hours," said Timothy Carney of the Erie County Sheriff's Office.