Climate change

Five dead in US storms, country girds for more fierce weather

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Swaths of the United States braced for more snow and punishingly low temperatures Wednesday as millions in the east dug out from a previous round of severe winter weather that left at least five people dead.

The latest storm, already bringing precipitation to the West, was expected to tear across the country this week, bringing an Arctic blast to northern regions and prompting weather advisories or warnings in dozens of states from California to Maine.

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“A potent Arctic front drops southward from Canada on Wednesday, and this will herald the arrival of the coldest temperatures so far this season for the Northern Plains, with subzero lows becoming a reality for Montana and the Dakotas, and highs remaining below freezing as far south as Oklahoma by Friday,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a statement.

That comes on top of fierce storms that brought tornadoes in the South, dangerous flooding in the east and blizzards through the Great Lakes region and elsewhere, disrupting thousands of commercial flights and prompting governors to declare states of emergency.

More than 400,000 customers were without power mid-morning Wednesday, including 140,000 in New York state, according to monitoring website Poweroutage.us, a drop from the nearly 900,000 customers nationwide that were without power Tuesday evening.

The NWS forecast “several feet of heavy snow and strong winds gusting to 60 mph” (96 kilometers per hour) through Wednesday in the northwest’s Cascades and parts of the Rocky Mountains, with the storm then barreling eastward and bringing “blizzard conditions” to the Midwest.

Meanwhile, tornadoes on Tuesday ripped through the Florida panhandle, where drone images showed downed trees and damaged buildings with roofs torn off.

At least five storm-related deaths have been recorded, including an 81-year-old Alabama woman whose mobile home was reportedly struck by a tornado.

The weather was already having a heavy impact on flights, with more than 659 canceled and 1,300 delayed in the United States early Wednesday, monitoring website FlightAware.com reported.

Scientists say that as humanity continues to warm the planet by burning fossil fuels, weather patterns will become more unpredictable.

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