US: Unprecedented Winter Storm Kills At Least 28

Beginning on Thursday, a "once in a generation" winter storm swept across the US, killing at least 28 people and leaving thousands without power and facing frigid life-threatening temperatures.

US: Unprecedented Winter Storm Kills At Least 28
Image credit: AP [via CNN]

Facts

  • Beginning on Thursday, a "once in a generation" winter storm swept across the US, killing at least 28 people and leaving thousands without power and facing frigid life-threatening temperatures.
  • Buffalo, NY ground to a halt with hurricane-force winds and blowing snow that caused whiteout conditions. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that nearly every emergency vehicle in the city was stranded on Saturday, as the National Weather Service (NWS) in Buffalo reported 43 in. of snow at the Niagara International Airport.
  • At least 25 of the deceased died in Erie County, NY which includes the city of Buffalo. Between Monday and Tuesday, the area is expected to see another 8-12 in. of snow.
  • Nearly 60% of the country has been placed under a winter storm advisory or warning. According to FlightAware, a flight tracking site, the unprecedented weather system has wreaked havoc on domestic and international travel, forcing the cancellation of more than 1.7k flights as of Sunday morning.
  • Many states also faced significant power outages from the below-freezing temps and blizzard-like conditions on Christmas Day. The storm, described as "a major and anomalous storm" by the NWS, put more than 175k households in the dark and cold across Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • Facing a "storm for the ages," New York Gov. Hochul has spoken with Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, and has been told that Pres. Biden is prepared to sign a disaster declaration for the state within 24 hours of their submission.

Sources: Forbes, PBS NewsHour, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, and Washington Post.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Utility Dive. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. warned that the US power grid could face widespread and unprecedented risks this winter. While there are sufficient energy resources under normal winter conditions, large swaths of the country have been left with power systems not built for extreme cold scenarios. A strong and cohesive collaboration between industry and government will be needed to bring the regions out of the dark ages, literally.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Power Technology. The US power grid is a massive system that is complex and a growing network requiring significant maintenance. The increase in extreme weather events due to climate change has tested the system, in some cases, beyond its capacity. Biden has been forward-leaning on the challenges, however, signing a $1T infrastructure bill to help modernize the US grid and allow for the faster restart of service when facing disaster.