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Semafor LogoDiego Mendoza and Jenna Moon
newsNorth America

North America winter storm leaves 1.5 million homes without power and kills at least 3

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Title iconWhat You Need To Know
  • More than 1.5 million homes left without power in the U.S., and more than 300,000 are without power in Canada.
  • The main regions impacted include the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Southeast states in the U.S., and Quebec in Canada.
  • At least 3 traffic accident fatalities in the U.S. state of Kentucky.
  • More than 4,200 U.S. flights cancelled, mostly in the Pacific Northwest region. Hundreds of flights from Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto in Canada were also cancelled.
Title iconThe Scenes

Several northern cities and counties in the U.S. issued blizzard warnings.

Waves in the Great Lakes were reportedly reaching nearly 40 feet (12 meters).

Some cities along the eastern seaboard saw major flooding.

Title iconStep Back

David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, told Semafor the frigid air is possibly the most important factor affecting this weekend’s weather, contributing to flash freezing that can be more dangerous than rain and snow.

He added that the storm falling right before Christmas is likely why it has received so much coverage, creating what Phillips described as a real “nightmare before Christmas.”

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A bomb cyclone

Ahead of the storm, many weather forecasters and media reports warned of an impending “bomb cyclone,” but what does that mean?

Picture it like two different air temperatures battling it out over the top of the continent, said Phillips.

In short, a “bomb cyclone” is what happens when tropical air surges north, and arctic air heads southwards. When they hit, that creates a low-pressure “weather bomb,” he said. “That mixing will occur over the mid part of the continent, and then it develops into [a] major storm.”

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