A winter storm will impact 100 million people in the United States. That was last week. This week is more of the same but with incredible cold added. In an elevated valley of northeast West Virginia on Saturday morning, 125 miles west of Washington, the temperature at a weather station in Canaan Valley plunged to -31F (-35C) — the coldest reading on record in that part of the state.
Unprecedented blizzards battered parts of Pakistan recently, including the hilltop town of Murree, where deep drifts and felled trees blocked roads, trapping thousands of vehicles and killing at least 23 people. One Pakistani woman, trapped in her car for hours by the record snowfall, described how she “saw death” in front of her as she waited for help.
Samina said she left her home at 16:00 local time to travel to Murree but soon found herself among those trapped in the snow: “I could see death in front of me,” she said. “It was like there were snow peaks built around our car… I can’t explain in words what I was going through. We were praying God may help us, and we shouldn’t perish in a snowstorm.”
Conditions conspired to dump 1.5m (5ft) of snow within just a few hours. “It was unprecedented,” said Tariq Ullah, an official in the nearby town of Nathiagali. “There were strong winds, uprooted trees, avalanches. People around were terrified.” Samina was finally rescued at 10:00 the following day. Ten children were confirmed to have perished in the storm, and at least 13 others were not so lucky.
Over the weekend in India, heavy, record-breaking snow across the higher reaches of Himachal has brought life to a standstill, blocking more than 730 roads, including four national highways; shutting down more than 700 electricity transformers, mainly in Shimla, Lahaul-Spiti, and Chamba, which has caused widespread power outages; and halting over 100 water supply systems.
Japan is being clobbered by snow. Otoineppu Village, Hokkaido, for example, registered a whopping 31cm (a foot+) of snow during three hours last Wednesday. Blizzards are continuing across northern and eastern Japan, and local weather officials warn of road closures and near-zero visibility. As much as 70cm (2.3ft) of snow is forecast along with parts of the Sea of Japan for the next two days, including Tohoku, and up to 50cm (1.64ft) in Hokkaido and Niigata as of this writing.
Canadian refineries have been struggling in the freezing weather. With temperatures ranging in the minus 50 C (minus 58F) degree range. Freezing lows were affecting the refinery’s ability “to crack the molecules to make gasoline or diesel.” The extreme cold was also slowing operations at a refinery in Anacortes, Washington, and two storage terminals in Oregon–which ship throughout the area. On top of that, the Trans-Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby is also not yet 100 percent back in action after November’s storm.