In mid-December, a massive winter storm brought heavy snow and cold winds across much of the United States. The arctic freeze stretched from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande, lowering temperatures drastically (see Figure 1).
Roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population (more than 200 million people) faced winter weather warnings or advisories on Friday, December 23. The “bomb cyclone” caused dozens of deaths, power outages, flight cancellations, and dangerous driving conditions across the country.
Figure 1. United States: Degrees Warmer or Colder than Average Low Temperature for December 24, 2024 (Fahrenheit Degrees)
Power outages took digital A transfer of funds which discharges an obligation on the part of a payer vis-à-vis a payee. More infrastructures offline like other extreme weather events. Their effects were limited, as the blizzard stranded all but essential workers at home and kept shoppers eager to get holiday gifts away from stores.
Airlines canceled thousands of flights, stranding travelers. U.S. airlines are obligated to provide a full refund for a canceled flight.
“Historic storms are no longer historic to us.” – New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
In western New York state (a region well prepared for winter conditions) and Buffalo (the state’s second-most populous city), the worst blizzard since 1977 left at least 39 dead and thousands without power. Hurricane-force winds reached 74 mph (119 km/h), paralyzing emergency response efforts.
Mobile payments: Some users requested donations via the Cash app. However, most people’s cell phones ran out of battery, such as Jeremy Manahan, who waited 29 hours without electricity until he could charge his phone. Cellphone batteries’ perform less optimally below 0 ºC and stop working at -15 ºC.
Card payments. Lacking employees, some gas stations only accepted card payments. “Thruway update: Fuel services at Angola Service Area (south of Buffalo on I-90) are limited to credit card sales only. The Thruway Authority says this is due to weather and no staffing. Restaurants and restrooms are open.” – Robert Harding (@RobertHarding).
Getting cash in advance: Nerdwallet writer Taryn Phaneuf recommended “having extra cash available [as that] could ease the stress of needing to replace food or stay in a hotel if the power in your home goes out for a long time before the storm.”
Cash came in handy: Stuck in her car, Cassandra Garmon, a single mother and pharmacy technician, wrote a message to the Buffalo Blizzard 2022 Facebook group: “I’m in desperate need of help y’all. I’ve been out here since 3pm please. On Clinton between Babcock and Bushnell. I have cash.” Eventually, a volunteer helped Garmon with a snowmobile; others brought her home to her two daughters.
Cash kept small businesses going: Craig Elston, owner of C&C Cutz in Buffalo, helped dozens of people find shelter in his barbershop during the blizzard. Elston also gave haircuts to “maybe five people […]. If you’re going to be buying food for 30 people who are sleeping in your barbershop, you can at least earn some cash through cutting people’s hair.”
Buffalo residents were running low on food, medicine, and other essentials. Many supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants remained closed through Tuesday, December 27. Some looters stole cash registers and an A.T.M. at Broadway Market.
On December 27, the N.Y.S. Department of Financial Services asked banks to give free banking and cash services to western New Yorkers to limit the need for travel.
The resilience of cash in natural disasters (such as snowstorm Uri in Texas and hurricane Ida in Louisiana) makes it essential to the public and private sectors’ preparedness, emergency, and recovery efforts.