SAS cancels flights as ‘Snowzilla’ hits America

SAS cancelled Saturday's five flights from Oslo and Stockholm to New York, and from Copenhagen to New York and Washington.

SAS cancels flights as 'Snowzilla' hits America
Forecasters predict that the storm could dump more than two feet (61 centimetres) of snow in Washington DC. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP

The airline has provisionally rebooked passengers on later departures this weekend.

The storm is mainly affecting Washington and Baltimore, and up to six inches of snow expected to fall on the US capital.

A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US Saturday as officials urged millions in the storm’s path to seek shelter, warning the worst is yet to come.

US news reports said at least 19 people had died by late Saturday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday.

Forecasters predict that the storm could dump more than two feet (61 centimetres) of snow in Washington, DC and the surrounding area by late Saturday, bringing life to a wintry halt as residents ride out the rough weather.

“The real teeth of this #winterstorm will be after midnight thru early Sat afternoon. Heavy snow, increasing winds, lightning threat,” the National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted.

A blizzard warning was in effect for a large swath of the eastern United States from Washington up to New York.

The storm is expected to affect about 85 million Americans — about one quarter of the inhabitants of the United States. Before it’s all over, it could cause more than $1 billion in damage, NWS officials said.

If the blizzard leaves as much snow in Washington as forecast, it could surpass a record set in 1922 by a storm that dumped 28 inches over three days and killed 100 people after a roof collapsed at a theater.

US Capitol Police have said they were lifting a decades-old sledding ban, but the national monuments, Capitol building and Smithsonian museums were all closed.

Although Swedes are used to severe winter storms, Nitzan Cohen, a meteorologist for Swedish public broadcaster, SVT, told TT news agency, “60 centimetres of snow is a lot. We often get such large amounts of snow in small areas of Sweden but this is a much larger area being affected.”

So-called snow cannons, which occur when large amounts of cold air move over warmer waters, is a common phenomenon in Sweden that can give rise to heavy snowfall. 

And there are numerous examples of Swedish snowfalls that have approached or exceeded the projected amount in the United States.

In late November 2012, for example, 75 centimetres of snow fell in Kilagård, south of Linköping, in the space of one day. A few years earlier, in December 1998, 1.5 meters of snow fell in Gävle area after a few days of intense snowfall.