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A massive ice storm has brought snow and freezing rain to Toronto, and to much of the east of Canada.
The storm has left some 400,000 people in the region without electricity and forced the closure of parts of its public transport system.
Travelers were stranded at airports in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal as dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed.
At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm system in the US and Canada.
Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford called the storm “one of the worst storms in Toronto history,” saying that a state of emergency may be called on Monday.
Rob Ford said the city’s top priority is restoring power to two hospitals, Sunnybrook and Toronto East General.
The Toronto Hydro power company said that it may take up to 72 hours to get everybody in the city reconnected.
A massive ice storm has brought snow and freezing rain to Toronto, and to much of the east of Canada
Many flights were also cancelled in the US due to the storm, at one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
More than 400,000 people were also left without power in Michigan, New York state and New England.
The US’s National Weather Service described the storm system as “complex and large”, warning that “another round of snow and ice” was expected for New England on Monday as the storm winds down.
At least four people were killed by flooding caused by the storm in Kentucky, while a tornado was reported to have caused extensive damage in Arkansas.
However, the system has also brought record high temperatures to some parts of the east coast of the US, with the temperature in New York’s Central Park reaching 21C, with records also being set in several other cities.
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A winter storm that started in Washington has hit Texas hard on Saturday, causing event cancellations, travel hindrances and power outages.
Almost 50 weekend holiday events had been cancelled or postponed across Texas, including Sunday’s 44th annual Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners, many of whom had trained for months. The same weather system also forced the cancellation of the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, which had been expected to include 20,000 competitors.
Four hundred flights remained grounded Sunday at Dallas Fort Worth International airport, according to airport officials, as crews scrambled to clear airport runways.
In Chicago, people started flooding into warming centers Saturday night as wind chills dropped below zero.
Some parts of Illinois were already slammed by a foot of snow, and Chicago would get 1 to 3 inches on Sunday, according to The Weather Channel.
A winter storm has hit Texas, causing event cancellations, travel hindrances and power outages
Residents in parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee also woke up to snow and ice on Sunday.
In Virginia, state Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Southard said the storm had the potential to be an “historic ice event.”
Other areas of the US that could expect precipitation in the form of snow or freezing rain Sunday were the Middle Missouri Valley into the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, the Mid Atlantic and southern New England, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Mississippi, the Central Gulf Coast and the Tennessee Valley were all expected to dodge snowfall but could experience heavy, cold rain, the NWS predicted.
Residents in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore were warned to be careful on the roads, as they could be hit by the first major snow accumulation of the season Sunday night. But the snow is expected to change to rain overnight, the Weather Channel reported, making the morning commute a messy one.
In the even colder areas of New England and upstate New York, even a slight snowfall could create Monday morning problems as it changes to freezing rain and slippery sheets of ice, according to The Weather Channel.
The storm is expected to move out to the Atlantic on Monday night, according to the NWS.
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Sixteen people have been reported killed by a severe snow storm moving through the north-eastern after disrupting Christmas in the Midwest.
States in New England are seeing heavy snowfall, with over a foot (30 cm) already fallen in parts of Massachusetts, weather officials said.
Flights were grounded and road collisions reported as the storm moved across the middle of the US.
As many as 34 tornadoes were reported across the South on Christmas Day.
The storm moved across northern New England on Thursday afternoon. Heavy snow was also reported in eastern parts of Canada.
Lebanon, Maine reported 12 in of snow, with up to 18 inches expected in the state and nearby Vermont and New Hampshire by the end of Thursday.
In Coudersport, Pennsylvania, where the storm has stopped, the National Weather Service reported 15 inches.
Hundreds of thousands of people are reported to have lost power, including 200,000 people in Arkansas and Alabama, where ice and 10 inches of snow coated electricity wires snapping poles and wires.
Sixteen people have been reported killed by a severe snow storm moving through the north-eastern after disrupting Christmas in the Midwest
Storm-related deaths were reported in New York, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the Associated Press said.
Falling trees claimed the lives of two people in Texas and Louisiana. A New York man was killed after his vehicle skidded on an icy road and an Ohio teenager died after losing control of her car and crashing into an oncoming snowplough.
As the storm moves into the southern parts of the Canadian province of Quebec, the area could receive up to 17in of snow, according to Environment Canada.
In Concord, New Hampshire, resident Dale Lamprey said he had been on the streets before 05:00 EST on Thursday morning, trying to clear the snow.
“It’s been windy, it’s been snowing and I think it changed over to sleet and freezing rain at one point. It’s pretty bad,” he told AP.
Inbound flights were delayed in Philadelphia and at the three New York area airports, as thousands of travelers were trying to return home after Christmas.
In Pittsburgh, a flight that landed safely on Wednesday night got stuck in several inches of snow on the tarmac for about two hours.
Airlines cancelled more than 800 flights on Thursday across the country, according to FlightAware.com.
Flights were also cancelled in Canada, with Toronto and Montreal affected, reports said.
Earlier in the week Little Rock, Arkansas, saw its first snow on Christmas Day in 83 years, while in neighboring Oklahoma seven inches of snow were blamed for a 21-vehicle pile-up on an interstate highway outside Oklahoma City.
Thirty-four tornadoes were observed in the southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday. A large section of a church roof in Mobile, Alabama, was ripped off by a twister.
The cold snap that hit Europe in the last week has already claimed more than 260 lives across the continent.
Ukraine continues to be hardest hit, with another 9 deaths overnight. According to officials, 131 have died up to now, most of them homeless people, and 1,800 people have been taken to hospital.
Eight people died in Poland overnight, police say, bringing the toll to 53.
In Romania, another 6 people died overnight rising the death toll to 34, the Black Sea is still frozen on the coastline and dozens of roads are closed due the freezing rain that hit the country after the snowfalls.
The cold snap that hit Europe in the last week has already claimed more than 260 lives across the continent
Transport hubs have also been hit, with London’s Heathrow airport expecting to run only 50% of services on Sunday.
At least 4 people have died in France since the Arctic spell began and 43 departments in France have been put on alert for “exceptional” weather conditions.
The Italian capital Rome has seen its heaviest snowfall in more than 25 years, with runs on essential goods at supermarkets reported.
“The snow is beautiful, but let’s hope spring comes soon,” Pope Benedict XVI told the small number of pilgrims who braved the cold to go to St. Peter’s Square.
The Italian national rail operator is facing class action lawsuits after hundreds of people were trapped in trains due to the weather, AFP news agency reports.
Three helicopters were being used over eastern Bosnia on Sunday to deliver food and pick up people who needed evacuation.
A state of emergency is in force in the capital, Sarajevo, where snow has paralyzed the city.
In neighboring Serbia, 70,000 people remain cut off and 32 municipalities throughout the country have introduced emergency measures, according to senior emergency official Predrag Maric.
The Netherlands marked temperatures of -21.8C in the town of Lelystad on Saturday, the lowest recorded in the country for 27 years.
42.5 million US people are expected to hit the road to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving – the highest number of holiday travellers since the start of the recession.
Thanksgiving travellers are at the mercy of the weather, because forecasters warned of rain and scattered thunderstorms in much of the north east, with a mixture of snow and freezing rain expected in upstate New York and northern New England. Mountainous areas could see 4 to 8 inches of snow.
Two forecasted storms are expected to make air travel rough across parts of the country, causing delays and cancellations at airports.
The first storm, which has already caused flash flooding across Arkansas, is forecast to move into the Southeast, bringing severe weather on Wednesday.
It will also bring rain showers and snow showers to the North east, with two inches of rain expected in Boston and New York and more than a foot of snow through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The worst of the severe weather was forecast to develop across parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, even into North and South Carolinas.
Thanksgiving travellers are at the mercy of the weather, because forecasters warned of rain and scattered thunderstorms in much of the north east
The second storm moved into the North west Tuesday evening and continuing through Thanksgiving day, bringing with it up to five inches of rain and a foot of snow to higher elevations. Flooding and strong winds are expected to be a major concern.
According to travel tracker AAA, 4% more Americans than last year will journey at least 50 miles from home, with about 90% of them driving. Another 8% plan to fly, but AAA notes that higher airfares and less available seats have forced many would-be fliers to drive instead. The remaining travelers plan to take buses, trains or other forms of transport.
This is the third consecutive Thanksgiving that US people have taken to the road in higher numbers than in the past year, according to Associated Press.
The increase in holiday travel is welcome news for an industry that has been struggling to get Americans back on the road.
Memorial Day saw no increase in vacations and travel was down for both July 4th and Labor Day breaks.
AAA says that Americans are willing to spend now because they want to spend time with their family.
Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services, said in a statement:
“As consumers weigh the fear of economic uncertainty and the desire to create lasting family memories this holiday, more Americans are expected to choose family and friends over frugality.”
Those driving should expect to pay more at the pump. The average price of a gallon of gas so far this November is $3.42, up nearly 20% from last year’s $2.86, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That means for every 100 miles a family drives this holiday they should expect to spend about $2.50 more on gas.
Rates for mid-range hotels are expected to increase 6% from last year ago with travelers spending an average of $145 a night. Lower-priced motels are seeing a 7% increase to $103.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $37, an 11% drop from last year.
According to AAA, Thanksgiving airfares are 20% higher than last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $212 for the top 40 U.S. air routes.
That estimate is much higher than a 4% increase predicted by both Orbitz and Priceline.
Those companies said the average airfare was closer to $400. Airlines report quarterly airfares but don’t break out prices for specific holidays.
The findings are based on a survey of 1,357 people in the U.S., 543 who said they plan to travel.
On this the fourth Thanksgiving since the economy sank, prices for everything from airline flights to groceries are going up, and some Americans are scaling back.
Yet in many households, the occasion is too important to skimp on. Said one mother: “I don’t have much to give, but I’ll be cooking, and the door will be open.”
Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA Travel Services, said: “This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year.”
Families who had foregone travel over the last three years are likely to reverse their decisions this year, the group said, leading to the uptick in the forecast.
The forecast, based on a monthly survey of 50,000 homes, said some 3.4 million – up 1.8% year-on-year – would fly over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving travel took a big hit in 2008 following the financial crisis and the economic uncertainty it caused.