US hit hard by continuing coast-to-coast winter weather

New York reports rising death toll as California prepares for intense rain

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The US on Wednesday continued to battle the aftermath of a “once-in-a-generation” winter storm that has led to the deaths of dozens of people while knocking out power and disrupting holiday travel for millions.

The National Guard went door-to-door in parts of Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday checking on people who had lost power during the area’s deadliest winter storm in decades.

With at least 26 dead so far, authorities are facing the possibility of finding more victims as the snow melts.

National Guard members check on residents in Buffalo, New York, following a winter storm. AP

Across New York state, more than 30 deaths have been reported due to the blizzard that raged on Friday and Saturday near Buffalo, an area prone to powerful winter storms.

Temperatures were expected to rise to about 10°C by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

With accumulated snow, abandoned vehicles and two-metre-high snowdrifts making the roads in Buffalo impassable, officials worked to clear storm drains while keeping an eye on a forecast calling for rain later in the week.

Erie County officials said they were preparing for the possibility of flooding and ice jams in local creeks.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport, closed for days due to the storm, reopened on Wednesday, though the airport’s website listed almost all scheduled flights had been cancelled or delayed.

US airlines have cancelled thousands of flights as the massive winter storm swept across much of the country during the Christmas holiday weekend.

Southwest, responsible for more than 80 per cent of the nation's flight cancellations, has been the most affected, while other airlines have largely recovered.

Meanwhile, dense fog plagued California’s Central Valley early on Wednesday as one winter storm left the state and another moved in.

The new storm is expected to move through Northern California late on Wednesday and overnight, followed by several rounds of precipitation through the rest of the week and into next week, the National Weather Service said.

The week’s first storm arrived late on Monday with howling winds, driving snow and drenching rain as it spread south.

By early on Wednesday, the trailing edge of that storm had largely slipped out of southern California, where the next big storm is predicted to hit on Saturday and into Sunday.

“New Year’s Eve celebrations planned for outdoors should include contingency plans,” the Los Angeles-area weather office wrote.

The long-term forecast for southern California indicates that Pasadena’s 138th Rose Parade will narrowly dodge stormy weather thanks to its tradition of holding the event on January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday.

US winter storm — in pictures

News agencies contributed to this report

Updated: December 28, 2022, 7:03 PM