United States

Flights Canceled, Power Outages As Winter Storms Cause Chaos In The US

As the first storm moved away on January 7, another one was moving across the western states, causing winter storm warnings from Arizona to Illinois and a blizzard warning in New Mexico and Colorado.

A man uses a snow blower to make a pathway in his yard, as snow falls around him.

In the wake of a pair of powerful winter storms, the United States is grappling with significant disruptions, with over 30cm of snowfall in New York's Hudson Valley and blizzard warnings echoing across the Great Plains. The adverse weather conditions have resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations, power outages, and alterations to rail services.

The initial storm, which began on January 7, pounded Boston and New England with heavy snow, while regions north and west of New York City, including the upper Hudson River Valley, received 15 to 30.5cm of snow. 

Mr. Greg Carbin, branch chief of the US Weather Prediction Centre, reported substantial snowfall in Orange County, New York, reaching a solid foot (30.5cm), and Port Jervis accumulating 13 inches (33cm).

Fortunately, New York City, including Manhattan's Central Park, largely escaped the brunt of the weather, experiencing mostly rain.

While the eastern storm gradually moved away on January 7, a second storm traversed the western states, prompting winter storm warnings and advisories from Arizona to Illinois, and a blizzard warning in New Mexico and Colorado. The combined impact of these systems has led to 692 flight cancellations across the United States, particularly affecting Boston, Newark, Seattle, and Chicago, according to FlightAware, an airline tracking company.

Passenger-rail carrier Amtrak has also taken precautions, canceling some trains to Boston and across the Midwest. As of early January 7, approximately 11,800 customers were without power in Massachusetts, primarily in Middlesex County north and west of Boston, as reported by PowerOutage.us.

New York's Central Park recorded a minimal 0.5cm of snow as of 7 am, preserving its streak of consecutive days without at least an inch of snow. The city had already broken the previous record, going 692 days without such accumulation, surpassing the prior mark of 383 days set on March 21, 1998.

Looking ahead, the western storm is expected to bring heavy snow across the Midwest, with areas just west of Chicago anticipating 22.9cm on the night of January 8 into January 9. Meanwhile, the eastern US faces flooding risks as downpours hit the melting snowpack. Parts of New York and New Jersey, already covered in snow, are predicted to receive 2.5cm to 7.6cm of rain from January 9 to January 10.

Despite the disruptions, many residents welcomed the return of winter weather after an unusually warm December. Jesse Floyd of Boxborough, Massachusetts, expressed relief, stating, "New England winters should include snow."

However, not everyone was satisfied with the snowfall. Walter Lark and his son Ira enjoyed the slushy snow in Providence, Rhode Island, but Mr. Lark expressed disappointment, hoping for a more significant snowfall to add to the fun.

The fresh snow brought joy to winter sports enthusiasts, especially at West Mountain ski center in Queensbury, New York. Spencer Montgomery, the ski center's co-owner, noted the positive impact, saying, "It’s like running a restaurant, and society’s lost their appetite. That’s what the natural snow does. It makes people hungry."