Thursday took a lot of people by surprise. Anyone not following the weather closely woke up to a colder than expected morning. As night darkness begrudgingly gave way to morning light, it was clear that the daylight would be facing an uphill battle. The cautious commuter would have checked their $1,000 smartphone and noticed rain in the forecast starting around noon.
What they wouldn’t have noticed was how far sideways things were about to go. Before the day was over, at least eight were dead due to the wintry conditions. A CNN report puts it succinctly. “Snowstorm slams eastern US, killing 8 and knocking out power.”
“A strong winter storm moving over the eastern half of the country has claimed at least eight lives and knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.
“A turbulent mix of rain, snow and ice that initially hit the Midwest caused havoc from the south to the northeast Thursday. It prompted school closures, hours-long delays for commuters and hundreds of flight cancellations.”
One of the victims of yesterday’s winter tantrum was a 60-year-old woman who lost control of her vehicle in Miami County, Indiana. She crashed due to slippery roads. CNN reports deadly weather-related crashes as far south as Mississippi.
“In Mississippi, a tour bus crashed Wednesday, killing two people and wounding several others. Sgt. Joseph Miller with the Mississippi Highway Patrol said the bus carrying 46 people was traveling from Huntsville, Alabama, to Tunica, Mississippi.”
It wasn’t just the South. New Yorkers were also caught unprepared. The Port Authority was overcrowded with commuters awaiting busses that couldn’t get there. New Jersey state police dealt with 555 traffic accidents.
In Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, school buses full of school children were forced to retreat back to the schools, leaving parents and students in a bind.
Severe winter weather takes a toll beyond the mean streets. Hundreds of thousands are left without power. Many rely on electricity to provide heat. In some circumstances, hours without heat can be deadly.
The storm is not over. Snow will continue to fall and ice will continue to form throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states. The National Weather Service predicts another 6 to 12 inches of snow before Friday comes to an end.
One of the keys to surviving extreme weather conditions is prior preparation. Friday commuters will not be caught by surprise. Take a moment to put down the smartphone and turn on the local weather to see if your area will be affected. Call in late for work and put on the snow tires or chains. Drive slowly. And keep the faucets dripping.