ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA - Everyone dreams of a White Christmas, but residents of Erie, Pennsylvania, in the United States, experienced what can only be described as a Whiteout Christmas on Monday (Dec 25).
A total of 86.4cm of snow fell in the city on that day, blanketing Erie in a white shroud and shattering its previous records for snowfall in a single day.
The snowfall total was more than four times the previous Christmas record of 20.5cm and also broke the record for the most snowfall in one day in the city's history, which was 50.8cm on Nov 22, 1956, reported CNN.
The snow didn't stop on Christmas either, with another 62.2cm picked up overnight and into Tuesday, taking the two-day tally to 148.6cm, the highest two-day snowfall total in the entire state of Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.
Overall, the storm that began on Sunday has dropped a grand total of 159.7cm of snow on Erie, according to the National Weather Service Cleveland.
By Tuesday night, 21 Pennsylvania National Guard troops were put on State Active Duty in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The record snowfall is a consequence of lake-effect snow, a weather phenomenon in which cold air combines with lake water to create narrow bands of powerful snow. It was expected to continue through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
A Snow Emergency was declared on Tuesday, according to the police, which wrote on Facebook: "Roads are dangerous and impassable. This is an incredible amount of snow that we're trying to move and (we) appreciate resident cooperation. Residents should stay off of City of Erie streets until it stops snowing, and we can get the roads open."
Ms Kara Murphy, a resident of Millcreek Township, a suburb of Erie, for 15 years told CNN she'd never seen snow like this. She said her in-laws' car was cleared of snow on Monday night, but was already covered again.
"We had a plough come down our street overnight, but it's impassable again," she said.
OThe cold weather affecting Erie, Pennsylvania, has also been felt elsewhere.
One of the first casualties appears to be a a homeless man froze to death at a bus stop in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, local media said, quoting police and a homeless charity.
Brutal sub-zero temperatures were recorded in places like Duluth, Minnesota (minus 37.7 deg C), on Tuesday, and Minot, North Dakota (minus 29 deg C).
In Minot, whose Air Force base houses a battery of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, the air was so cold that residents said it hurt simply to breathe in.
“The air hurts your face. And it hurts to breathe. Your skin instantly steams when you go outside,” said Mr Morgan Alonia, 27, manager of the Broadway Bean and Bagel cafe.
“If you put your hand out the door, your hand will steam,” he said. “We took a pot of boiling water outside yesterday, and threw it in the air and made snow.”
Unusually low temperatures were also recorded in the US northern Atlantic states. In New York, weather authorities told residents to expect temperatures of between minus 12.7 deg C and minus 6.6 deg C through Saturday, which they described as “well below the normal,” and Governor Andrew Cuomo warned residents to prepare for “dangerously cold weather ahead.”
Other countries under a cold weather spell
In Canada, extreme cold warnings were issued for scores of communities across the country, including the heavily-populated provinces of Ontario and Quebec. While Toronto reported temperatures of minus 15 deg C and Ottawa minus 25 deg C, the coldest spot in Canada was minus 42.8 deg C in Armstrong, Ontario, according to Environment Canada.
High winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour linked to the low temperatures have left almost 160,000 homes in the eastern province of Nova Scotia – almost one-third of the power company’s customers – without electricity, officials said.
Britain suffered power outages and travel disruption Wednesday, with flights delayed because of brief runway closures as adverse weather hit large swathes of the country.
More than 73,000 homes were left without power in central and southern English regions through the morning, due to snow and high winds.
Meanwhile Stansted Airport twice temporarily shut its runway due to “adverse weather conditions”. Flights were also cancelled or delayed at Luton Airport after aircraft needed de-icing. Large parts of Britain experienced at least some snowfall Wednesday, alongside near-freezing temperatures and gusty winds.
In Chiang Mai’s Samoeng district, the authorities organised the handout of blankets and winter clothes to 7,000 residents, with the temperature in the district plunging to 5 deg C on Friday morning, a record low. Temperatures have been getting colder since Tuesday across the rest of the country due to the effect of cold winds originating from China. According to the Meteorological Department’s weather prediction, temperatures in areas excluding the South will drop by another 2 to 4 deg C during the New Year holidays.
As the new cold snap began, the people in Bangkok faced light rain and colder weather on Wednesday (Dec 27), with temperatures around 20 deg C to 22 deg C, while in the mountainous northern region, temperatures plunged to 12 deg C.
A snowstorm caused the temporary closure of an airport in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region on Wednesday. Due to the heavy snowfall that began at 4pm, the airport was expected to be closed until 7.20am on Thursday, according to the airport authorities.
The local observatory issued a yellow alert for the weather, recording an accumulated precipitation of 14.8mm as of 10pm. The snowstorm has also hit other areas in northern Xinjiang. It was expected to last for hours and then bring low temperatures.