The Great Brrrr: It’s not just the US, these countries are also witnessing a deadly winter

A severe winter storm has brought chaos and destruction to the United States, killing at least 60 people and leaving countless thousands without any power. In India, the northern states are too witnessing a cold snap, causing travel disruptions. Japan too is also buried under a snow storm

FP Explainers December 28, 2022 16:05:53 IST
The Great Brrrr: It’s not just the US, these countries are also witnessing a deadly winter

A man plows snow in the driveway outside his home in Buffalo, New York's Elmwood Village. Clean up is currently under way after a blizzard hit four Western New York counties. AP

Winter is here and the world is battling with extremely frigid temperatures. The extreme cold is wreaking havoc on numerous regions of the globe, shattering existing records and creating new ones.

Many parts of the world — from eastern United States to Canada, to India — are shivering as the mercury dips further, leaving everyone bundled in their warm clothes and wishing for some sun.

Here’s taking a look at the countries that are freezing and how they are coping with the extreme weather.

United States

A severe winter storm has wreaked chaos on the United States, affecting a large portion of the country and Canada, bringing heavy snow, freezing rain, flooding and dangerously low temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, 60 per cent of the US population is under some sort of winter weather advisory or warning.

As of Tuesday, the storm has claimed the lives of at least 60 people; more than half the deaths have taken place in western New York, in what Buffalo’s mayor called a “once-in-a-generation storm”. Western New York is seeing blizzard conditions, which has dropped over 48 inches of snow and sent temperatures plummeting to minus 30 degrees Celsius when accounting for wind chill.

The Great Brrrr Its not just the US these countries are also witnessing a deadly winter

An aerial view of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition neighbourhood in Buffalo, which remains coated in a blanket of snow after a blizzard. AP

The winter storm has also forced the cancellation of thousands of flights, including about 4,800 on Tuesday morning alone. Thousands of passengers have been left stranded at airports across the country.

Also read: What’s causing the winter storm in US that’s disrupting holiday plans?

Describing how severe the weather was, Ditjak Ilunga from Gaithersburg, Maryland, told CBS News he was on his way to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario, with his daughters when their SUV was trapped in Buffalo. After spending hours with the engine running he made the desperate choice to risk the howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. When he walked through the shelter doors after trudging in the snow, he said, “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”

The extreme weather has also turned Niagara Falls into a partially frozen winter wonderland. The magical scene was captured in a series of photographs that show frozen mist and sheets of ice blanketing parts of the iconic tourist destination at the border of New York state and Ontario, Canada.

The winter storm also left millions of people without power. As of Saturday night, at least 345,000 customers were without power nationwide, according to the outage tracking site powerOutage.us. Of those, more than 170,000 were in the New England region.

Deep snow, single-digit temperatures and power outages sent Buffalo residents scrambling to get out of their houses to anywhere that had heat.

India

It’s not just the US that has been left freezing in the cold. A cold snap has battered north Indian states, with the weather office predicting these conditions to prevail over the next two days.

However, IMD weather scientist RK Jenamani was quoted as telling NDTV that a fresh cold wave may batter Delhi on 31 December and 1 January.

The Great Brrrr Its not just the US these countries are also witnessing a deadly winter

People warm themselves around a bonfire as temperatures plummet in New Delhi. AP

In Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan as well as Jammu and Kashmir, the temperatures have dipped significantly. Places in Delhi-NCR along with Punjab and Haryana experienced a severe drop in the mercury as temperatures fell below three degrees Celsius.

The India Meteorological Department has also warned people in the North of extreme fog conditions. In fact, as many as 100 flights have been disrupted in Delhi alone owing to poor visibility.

“Due to bad weather (fog) for three days, over 100 flights are reported delayed from and to Delhi airport, some have also been diverted to the nearest airport,” a Delhi airport official told ANI.

West Bengal’s Bagdogra airport also witnessed flight disruptions for more than six hours on Tuesday owing to the fog. The disruption caused inconvenience to hundreds of passengers.

In the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, an intense cold wave saw temperatures dropping to or below the freezing point. According to an Indian Express report, Keylong in Lahaul valley recorded minus 7.9 degrees Celsius, Manali minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, and Solan and Shimla recorded a minimum temperature of 2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius respectively on Tuesday.

Canada

The powerful winter storm has also caused trouble in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without power in Ontario and Quebec. Many flights were also cancelled at airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Japan

In Asia, Japan is also witnessing a white Christmas, as heavy snow blanketed its northern region killing 17 and injuring 93 people in the past 10 days, officials said on Monday.

Three municipalities in Japan’s northeastern region measured over a metre of snow within a 24-hour period on Monday morning — the highest these areas have ever recorded. Cities in Niigata Prefecture recorded between 72 centimetres to 87 centimetres of snow.

The Great Brrrr Its not just the US these countries are also witnessing a deadly winter

A resident shovels snow off around a car at a parking lot in Kitami city Hokkaido prefecture, northern Japan. AP

The snowfall has caused severe transportation disruptions and power blackouts; 20,000 homes were without any power on Christmas morning in northern Japan’s Hokkaido. News agency Associated Press reported that hundreds of flights and train services were suspended in the region.

The winter weather had caused the Yamagata Shinkansen train line to halt service in some places, according to The Mainchi newspaper.

The weather department for Japan has forecast more snow at Sapporo and Asahikawa in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, and in Aomori prefecture until 3 January, with a break on Saturday.

United Kingdom

Britain is also witnessing extreme cold, with weather experts forecasting that a new Arctic blast of cold weather will hit the area. In the run-up to Christmas, much of the UK was hit with snowstorms and frosty weather which gave way to more mild temperatures this week.

But forecasters are now warning that the country could see a major winter blast blow in from the Arctic, with winds as cold as minus 11 degrees Celsius.

Also read: It’s so cold in Britain that it has triggered cold weather payment: What is this £25 scheme?

The latest cold snap could see heavy snow return to the United Kingdom, adding to the travel chaos already being caused by strikes.

With inputs from agencies

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