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US winter storm kills firefighter, disrupts power




On Thursday, a massive winter storm pounded the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, killing a firefighter and knocking out power to over 900,000 people, and canceling or delaying thousands of flights.

The National Weather Service said another 18 inches (46 cm) of snow, winds up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour), and wind chills equivalent to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 Celsius) were possible throughout the day across a wide swath of the northern United States from Washington state to New England.

A volunteer firefighter was killed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after coming into contact with a downed power line caused by ice, according to local officials on Twitter.

According to, approximately 900,000 homes and businesses were without power on Thursday morning in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin.


According to flight-tracking website, more than 2,000 flights were canceled and another 15,000 were delayed due to the severe weather. Many roads were rendered impassable or dangerous to motorists.

“With just a trace of ice on the roads, travel can be hazardous. However, we are seeing ice caking ranging from a quarter to half an inch (6 mm to 1.3 cm) “said Richard Bann of the Weather Prediction Center at the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland. “That may be nearly impossible.”

Snow fell at a rate of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) an hour in Minneapolis, home to about 2.9 million people. New accumulations added to the 8 inches of snow already dumped by the storm.

“Big-time flakes coming down here,” storm chaser Aaron Jayjack said in a video he posted on Twitter from Minneapolis. “This is the final push of the storm, and appears to be the heaviest snowfall yet.”

The Minneapolis school system was holding classes remotely for more than 29,000 pupils for the rest of the week. Dozens of school districts also canceled classes in North and South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, and Wyoming


In Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan, almost 20,000 homes and businesses lost power. Nathan Pietryga, manager of the long-standing college hangout Pizza Bob’s, counted himself one of the lucky ones.

“I made it to work, a little shuffling on the ice,” he said.

Classes weren’t canceled, but students were advised to use discretion. Pietryga indicated he expected to sell some pizza. “We’ve been here forever, the kids will come in,” he said.

A separate storm spawned unusual weather in California, where much of the state was under high wind and winter storm warnings.


Rare snow flurries were reported in San Francisco while blizzard conditions were expected in high elevations, even in the typically balmy Los Angeles area. By Saturday, up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow could accumulate on Mount Baldy, about 45 miles (72 km) east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains.

At the same time, parts of the Ohio Valley and the South could see near record-breaking high temperatures, beginning Thursday and lingering into the weekend. Weather forecasters predicted temperatures to hit 88 F (31 C) in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday.


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