From New York to California, extreme weather hits hard
Make it stop! The second winter storm in a week slammed the northeast and Midwest early Wednesday with a dangerous cocktail of snow, ice, and freezing rain.
New York, New Jersey, and Kansas all declared states of emergency in response to snowfall of up to a foot. Mississippi, facing severe freezing rain and inches of ice, also declared a state of emergency. Winter storm warnings and travel advisories were issued in many states.
Governors across the region plead with citizens to stay home and stay off the roads as Nika’s wintry mix created dangerous conditions. New York closed off all of Interstate 84 and commuter trains and Amtrak saw delays. Airports remained open, but thousands of flights were cancelled. Schools across the country were closed, too.
“Mother Nature always wins in the end but we have done everything we can do,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the clean-up efforts.
Cuomo alluded to climate change in his address.
“The situation is challenging. The amount of snowfall makes plowing more difficult and it’s taxing on the equipment. That is the new normal,” he said. “Hurricane Sandy, Storm Irene, they were talking about thunder snow, the polar vortex….this is a pattern of extreme weather that gives challenges we’ve never dealt with before.”
But Nika highlighted taxed states’ infrastructure, thanks to this winter’s severe weather: several areas, including New York City and parts of New Jersey, reported salt shortages that impeded clean-up efforts. Hundreds of thousands were out of power Wednesday morning, particularly in Pennsylvania, where more than 700,000 were affected.
The storm is expected to taper off Wednesday night, but another large storm is expected early next week. It seems that Punxsutawney Phil and New York’s own Staten Island Chuck were right—six more weeks of winter.
On the opposite coast, however, California has been ravaged by a punishing drought for more than a year that could become the worst in the state’s history, rocking farmers and ranchers who are struggling to keep crops and livestock alive. For the first time, the state will shut down the State Water Project, which supplements millions water supplies and will reduce allocations for farmlands by half—the maximum reduction allowed by law—according to the Guardian. There is little forecast of natural relief for the state; the federal government is currently reviewing an $644 million emergency aid bill to help mitigate the effects.