Winter Storm Elliott ravaged the Midwest and Northeast on Friday and Saturday, canceling flights, causing widespread power outages and breaking record snowfall totals in Buffalo, New York, as more than half of the U.S. is placed under winter storm watches, warnings and advisories on Christmas Eve.
More than 2,500 flights into, out of and within the U.S. were canceled and another 5,700 delayed as of 3:00 p.m. Saturday, after nearly 6,000 were canceled and 11,500 delayed on Friday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware, with the worst affected airports being Seattle-Tacoma, Chicago O’Hare, Denver and LaGuardia.
More than 2 million people in the U.S. and Canada had lost power as of 9:30 a.m. Saturday, including more than 333,000 customers in Quebec, 465,000 in North Carolina, 337,000 in Tennessee, 234,000 in Maine and 74,000 in New York, according to PowerOutage.us.
In a statement on Thursday, President Joe Biden warned the storm is “not like a snow day, you know, when you were a kid,” calling it “serious stuff” and advising Americans planning to travel to “leave now.”
At least 15 people have died from the storm in the U.S., CNN reported, including one in a vehicle crash in Wisconsin, three in Kentucky, two in New York, three in Kansas, one in Missouri, one in Tennessee and four in “weather-related” car crashes in Ohio.
Officials in New Jersey, where temperatures are projected to plummet following heavy rain throughout the day Friday, had warned drivers to stay off the roads, the New York Times reported, while in Buffalo, New York, the National Weather Service warned blizzard conditions and low visibility will make travel “nearly impossible.”
In Ohio, a pileup of more than a dozen vehicles on Friday afternoon brought traffic to a standstill.
Buffalo, New York, meanwhile, broke a daily snowfall record on Friday, with 22.3 inches on the ground—nearly double the previous daily record of 12.6 inches set in 1976, according to AccuWeather.
Heavy wind and more than a foot of snow could hit certain parts of the country. In Buffalo, New York, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning as a band of lake effect snow brings more than a foot of snow and zero visibility at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Heavy rain followed by sub-freezing temperatures in New England is expected to cause dangerous icy conditions. Blizzard warnings are also in effect in parts of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, with winter storm warnings throughout the Great Lakes region.