Sixteen states under weather alerts as major snowstorm sweeps the US

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A major snowstorm is sweeping across much of the US, bringing up to 2ft of snow to places as well as causing road accidents and downed power lines.

On Sunday, 16 states from California to Michigan were put under weather alerts for snow and blizzards, with heavy layers of snow supplemented with winds whipping up to 60mph in places.

Heavy snowfall has already affected millions of people in New England, with a storm bringing about 12in of snow to northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and much of Maine. Thousands of people were left in the dark due to power blackouts – and in New York City, the deluge came in the form of rainfall, inundating parts of the subway system on Saturday.

Even with the onset of spring, the winter-like weather won’t ease up this week, with thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes expected across Kansas and Oklahoma. Severe storms are also set to batter Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana on Monday.

Such weather is not unheard of at this time of year, although much of the US has had something of a snow drought so far in 2024. This past winter was the warmest ever recorded in the US, fueled by the broader, ongoing climate crisis. There was record heat for Michigan and Wisconsin – two states that are usually the coldest, and snow-bound, in the US during winter.

Meanwhile, the northern lights are, unusually, expected to be visible in the US as far south as the midwest on Monday night. The aurora borealis, more commonly seen within the Arctic Circle, will be seen farther south than normal due to a severe solar storm.

Solar storms are caused by coronal mass ejections, when clouds of plasma erupt from the sun’s outer atmosphere. Particles stream towards Earth, creating the spectacular display as they strike the Earth’s magnetic field.

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