Early in the winter season, several regions struggled with unusually severe storms.
North America: A weekend ice storm in December shut off power for residents in Michigan, southern Ontario, Canada, and parts of the U.S. Northeast, according to CNN. Ice weighed down trees, which pulled down poles. Broken limbs littered yards. “Authorities blame [the] storm for 17 deaths in the U.S. and 10 in Canada,” The Associated Press reported.
Residents were still without power seven days later, when another storm shut down parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike after a 35-vehicle pileup sent 10 people to the hospital.
Before the official start of winter, the upper Midwest struggled to recover from damage caused by several tornadoes and a blizzard that killed tens of thousands of cattle. The October blizzard dumped nearly three feet of snow on parts of the Northern Plains and stranded more than 80 motorists in western South Dakota, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The storm’s early arrival caught ranchers off guard. Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, told the Rapid City Journal that “…during the cold months, ranchers tend to move their cattle to pastures that have more trees and gullies to protect them from storms. Because [the] storm arrived so early in the year, most ranchers were still grazing their herds on summer pasture, which tend to be more exposed and located farther away from ranch homes.”
In Iowa, responders combed through debris after numerous tornadoes touched down overnight, destroying more than 20 homes and damaging 40 to 50 farms (Chicago Tribune).
Europe: A severe winter storm in December left five dead and hundreds of thousands without power across Western Europe, according to The Associated Press.
“The storm caused four deaths in Britain, including a man who jumped into a fast-flowing river to try and rescue his dog. The severe weather also left a 12-year-old boy crushed to death beneath construction materials in Normandy, France.”
“The Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across the U.K., said 150,000 homes were without power, mainly in the south of England.”
The Associated Press also reported that strong winds in northern Spain’s Galicia region derailed a commuter train, kept its fishing fleet in port, and knocked out power to 88,000 homes.
Middle East: A regional cold snap in December blanketed Cairo in snow and stranded motorists in Israel.
As Egyptian children played, adults posted pictures on the Internet of a powder-covered Cairo, which had not seen snowfall in more than 100 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In Israel, “Nearly three feet of snow closed roads in and out of Jerusalem…and thousands in and around the city were left without power. Israeli soldiers and police rescued hundreds trapped in their cars by snow and ice.”
In Lebanon, “The inclement weather worsened the situation for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees…where many live in makeshift camps, abandoned buildings and other temporary sites lacking heat and protection from the elements.”