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Most of US to be ‘dangerously cold’ as holiday week winter storm spawns blizzard, whiteout conditions

Winter has arrived.

A is set to spread a multitude of weather hazards – and holiday travel chaos – across the central and eastern United States to mark the winter solstice.


As a strong arctic cold front begins diving into the central Plains on Wednesday and the southern Plains by early Friday, forecasters warn temperatures could dip by 20 or more degrees within just a few hours.


More than 50 million Americans were as brutal cold and dangerous wind chills threatened the northern Plains en route to the East Coast by Friday.


More than half of U.S. states are forecast to see some areas with minimum wind chill temperatures in the negative double digits, with the coldest regions bracing for wind chills below -50 degrees,  It amounts to “dangerously cold conditions across most of the country this week.”

Much of the eastern two-thirds of the country can expect heavy snow, damaging winds and even some heavy rainfall to accompany the extreme cold through the holiday weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

“This storm really means business in the Midwest and Great Lakes,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines told USA TODAY.

Here’s what to know about the pre-holiday storm.

Midwest: Midwestern U.S. states into the Great Lakes can expect blizzard conditions from snow and strong winds, and light to moderate snowfall is forecast. Heavier snow could exceed a foot over the Great Lakes through Friday. St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago will all be hit. “The big deal in these areas is not the amount of snow, but the extreme cold accompanying the snow and the extreme wind,” Kines said.
Northeast: Mostly rain is expected ahead of the storm system Thursday and Friday in the East, according to AccuWeather. “The cold air is racing eastward, and once the rain ends in a lot of spots, temperatures will plummet,” Kines said. That could lead to a rapid freeze in areas such as New York City by Friday. Combined with the new moon tide cycle, dangerous coastal flooding could occur from northern New Jersey to northeast Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.
South: More than 4.4 million people were under a weather service-issued hard-freeze warning in parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. “Even all the way down into Texas and eventually Florida will receive some of this cold,” Kines said. Widespread subzero wind chills may creep into Texas and parts of the Deep South through the week’s end, the weather service said.

Wind gusts over 50 mph and snow were expected to unleash over the northern and central Plains through the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service. The combination could make for treacherous travel regardless of whether heavy snow is falling.

The National Weather Service warned of whiteout conditions on roads in the central and eastern U.S. where blizzards occur.

“Traveling in these conditions will be extremely dangerous, to at times impossible,” the National Weather Service said. “You risk becoming stranded and more vulnerable to the bitterly cold weather.”


The worst air travel delays Wednesday were expected such as Minneapolis and Denver amid the increasingly potent storm, AccuWeather said. Plummeting temperatures also could create  on roads where standing water doesn’t dry quickly, according to the weather service.

A low-pressure system developing along the storm’s frontal boundary is expected to strengthen rapidly by Thursday night over eastern Michigan, the National Weather Service said.

The rapid strengthening could lead to record-breaking frigid temperatures over parts of the Gulf Coast and eastern U.S. by Friday, according to meteorologists.

“Across Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, there are probably going to be some record lows set up there,” Kines said.

Meteorologists expect the most widespread weather hazard over the next few days to be related to the extremely cold air mass set to chill the central and eastern parts of the U.S.

Wind-chill values could drop as low as minus 70 degrees across the central High Plains, according to the National Weather Service. This level of cold could cause frostbite on exposed skin within minutes, hypothermia and even death during prolonged exposure, forecasters warned.



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Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail

Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.

Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.

Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”

Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”

The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.

Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.

While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.


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Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.

“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.

We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.

Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.

Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.

The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal



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‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price

Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.

What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?

It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.

A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.

Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.

She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.

Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.

“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.

It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.

She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.

“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.

The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.

Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.

“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.

Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.

She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.

“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.

In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.

News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.

“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.

One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”

That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.

No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.

They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.

“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.


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