Washington, Dec 23 (EFE).- An expansive winter storm forced the cancelation of thousands of flights Friday in the United States just as the holiday travel period got underway ahead of Christmas.
More than 240 million people, or 60 percent of the US population, are under winter weather warnings due to what forecasters are calling a “once in a generation” storm.
“Blizzard and Arctic Blast to impact from the Midwest to the Northeast,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said, with temperatures 25-to-35 degrees (F) below average from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, a mountain range that extends from southeastern Canada to Alabama in the southern US.
“Traveling in these conditions will be extremely dangerous, to at times impossible,” the NWS said, adding that “frigid temperatures and gusty winds (are) expected to produce dangerously cold wind chills across much of the central and eastern US this holiday weekend.”
By Friday afternoon, the number of canceled flights topped 4,500, according to the FlightAware website, while PowerOutage.us reported that upwards of 1.4 million homes and businesses were without electricity.
The adverse weather conditions are also affecting rail and road transportation, with Greyhound, the country’s largest bus company, warning that trips in the North and Midwest could be canceled or suffer changes.
“Travel has already been affected by this storm along with reported power outages. This system will have increasingly widespread impacts to travel going into the busy holiday travel time late this week, along with the potential for power outages from the expected high winds, heavy snows, significant icing and overall increased power consumption in places,” the NWS said.
At a press conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden urged Americans to take the storm “seriously” and “heed the local warnings.”
“This is not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is serious stuff,” he said. EFE pamp-jdg/jt-dr