The eastern half of the United States and parts of Canada have been assaulted by a severe snow storm which has left 16 people dead.

The snow storm, named as "Hercules", left some areas buried under two feet of snow and was so severe that both the governors of New York and New Jersey had to declare states of emergency. Schools were closed, over 2,500 flights were cancelled and people were advised not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: "As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors. This is nothing to be trifled with."

New York’s three major airports made preparations to accommodate travellers whose flights were cancelled.

"We have a few hundred cots at each of the airports should you decide to become an overnight guest," said Thomas Bosco, an official with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The authority also runs Newark and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The thick snow also caused chaos on roads throughout the affected areas, resulting in the deaths of motorists in Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

Other deaths occurred when asalt storage worker was killed in Philadelphia by a 100-ft (30-metre) pile of road salt which fell and crushed him, and a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in rural New York state froze to death after she wandered away from her home. A man was reported to be fighting for his life after being pulled from Lake Michigan by firefighters.

The storm resulted in record-breaking freezing temperatures, which were reported as being "dangerously low."

Meanwhile, across the Pond in the U.K., torrential rain and storm force winds have been sweeping relentlessly across the country repeatedly since before Christmas, causing deaths, flooding and widespread damage.

Waves of up to 40 feet high have been battering the U.K. coastlines, and many residents have had to be evacuated. Emergency services have been unable to find a teenager in Devon who was believed to have been swept away by freak waves on Thursday: Harry Martin, 18, from Membland, Newton Ferrers, has not been seen since he left home to take photographs of stormy seas. Another man died when his car veered off the road and hit a tree in torrential rain.

Almost 100 flood warnings are currently in place across Britain, and as more severe weather is expected on Sunday, U.K. residents are being warned to brace themselves for more floods on England’s coasts and rivers. In London, the Thames barrier has been closed to protect the capital city from the threat of floods.

Northwestern France has also suffered from the storm surges: heavy rains coupled with unusually high tides left the streets of some coastal towns underwater, and the Frence region had high-risk flood alerts in place on Friday. Further south along the Brittany coast in the town of Quimperle, shops and homes were evacuated as the Laita River overflowed its banks.

Those who keep their eyes on Whitley Strieber’s "Climate Watch" section here on Unknown Country will know that Whitley Strieber predicted such violent weather across Europe and the eastern U.S.

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