The ongoing winter storm that has brought heavy snow, strong winds and freezing temperatures to much of the United States over the past week has killed at least 26 people and left hundreds of thousands without power.
Near Buffalo, New York, could see the heaviest snowfall with 43 inches as of Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Erie County officials said at least seven people were killed as snow and blizzards made roads impassable and substations froze.
Conditions eased slightly Sunday, allowing emergency crews to get out of their vehicles to see the extent of the problem.
“I don’t want to say that’s the case because it’s a fallacy for me to say that because we know there are people who have been stuck in their cars for more than two days,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Sunday. “Some people in the family have temperatures below freezing.”
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul called it “the most destructive storm in Buffalo’s long history” because of its power and duration.
“This is an epic crisis,” Hochul told CNN’s Paula Reid on Sunday.
The winter storm has brought dangerously low temperatures, blizzards and coastal flooding to nearly the entire United States over the past week, disrupting Christmas plans.
More than 55 million people remained under wind chill warnings Sunday morning, with freeze warnings in place across the South.
Snowstorms continued on Sunday in the Great Lakes region, while frigid temperatures enveloped the eastern two-thirds of the country.
Some major cities in the Southeast, Midwest and East Coast had their coldest Christmas in decades. In Florida, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach will have their coldest December 25th since 1983. New York City also saw record low temperatures at several locations on Christmas Eve, including JFK and LaGuardia. With a high of 15 degrees in Central Park, it was the second coldest Dec. 24 in at least 150 years. National Weather Service.
Temperatures are expected to pick up later in the week with above-normal temperatures, a welcome warming trend.
About 250,000 homes and businesses in the U.S. were without power as of about 11 a.m. ET, according to PowerOutage.us, with nearly half of those affected in Maine and New York states. The number of customers without power has at times exceeded 1 million since the storm began.
In pictures: Winter storms affecting the US
Grid operators in at least 13 states in the eastern half of the country are asking customers to conserve electricity and set thermostats lower than usual between early Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday because usage is already at its peak.
Carrier PJM Interconnection for Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia Some 65 million people are served in all or part of the region. Operators have warned that rolling blackouts could occur if the pressure gets too high.
In New York, utilities Con Edison and Natural Grid US also urged customers to conserve energy, citing extreme weather conditions and increased energy demand on the interstate pipelines that carry natural gas to the city.
Meanwhile, power shortages in Texas prompted the U.S. Department of Energy to declare a state of emergency on Friday, allowing energy suppliers in the state to exceed environmental emissions standards until energy use falls.
In Jackson, Mississippi, frigid temperatures hampered work Saturday night to repair a large water main break that left residents experiencing a drop in water pressure, city officials said.
“We thank staff for braving freezing temperatures this Christmas Eve while working hard to restore residents to stress. Their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and is appreciated not only by this administration but by every resident affected,” The press release said.
Severe weather conditions also affected travel over the busy holiday weekend, with more than 5,000 flights canceled on Friday, more than 3,400 on Saturday and more than 1,350 on Christmas Day.
Seven people were reported dead from the storm in Erie County, New York, which experienced snowstorms, and about 500 motorists were killed Friday night into Saturday morning despite a driving ban in the county, County Executive Poloncarz said. Trapped in a car during a storm.
He said the National Guard had been called in to help “rescue people trapped in their vehicles.”
Polonkaz announced four of the deaths at a news conference Sunday morning.
“I know some were found in cars and some were found in snowdrifts on the street,” Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz said Saturday morning that two people died in separate incidents Friday night after emergency medical personnel were unable to get home in time to deal with a medical emergency. A county spokesman confirmed details of the third death Saturday afternoon, but were not immediately available.
“Losing two lives in Buffalo – related to the storm – because people couldn’t get medical help, again you have a crisis situation in front of you, and you realize that lifesaving ambulances and emergency medical personnel can’t get to people in a snowstorm situation, “New York State Government. Kathy Hochul said Saturday.
Hochul said she will ask the federal government to “declare a state of emergency, which will allow us to seek reimbursement for all the additional costs of overtime and the fact that we bring in mutual aid from other parts of the state.”
Powerful winter storm leaves first responders in need, officials say
The country also reported other storm-related deaths. They include:
• COLORADO: Police in Colorado Springs, Colo., reported two cold-related deaths since Thursday, with a man found near an electrical transformer in a building he may have sought to heat , and another man was in the camp in the alley.
• KANSAS: Three people were killed in a weather-related crash, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday.
• Kentucky: Three people were killed in the state, including one in a car crash in Montgomery County, officials said.
• Missouri: Kansas City police said one person died after a caravan slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek.
• Ohio: Eight people were killed in weather-related crashes, including one Saturday morning on Interstate 75 when a semi-trailer crossed the center line and collided with an SUV and a pickup, authorities said. collide.
• Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one storm-related death Friday.
• Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported a fatal winter weather-related crash on Thursday.
Strong winds behind an arctic cold front moving through this week will lead to sometimes lake-effect snow and blizzards in parts of the Great Lakes on Sunday.
Blizzard warnings, winter storm warnings and winter weather warnings cover much of the upper Midwest, Great Lakes region and Ohio Valley.
An additional 8 to 16 inches of lake effect snowpack is possible.
The storm system is expected to gradually weaken as it moves into southeastern Canada, moving slowly over the next few days and pulling arctic air from Canada into much of the eastern part of the country.
The arctic storm will slowly weaken on Monday.
The frigid temperatures combined with dangerous wind chills will be potentially life-threatening for stranded travelers, people working outdoors, livestock and pets, according to the National Weather Service.
“In some areas, being outdoors can cause frostbite within minutes,” the Bureau of Meteorology warned.
Lake-effect snow and blizzard conditions are expected to continue, but taper off in intensity, as frigid air continues to blow over the warm waters of the Great Lakes.
Still, initial wind gusts of up to 60 mph coupled with snow from the Great Lakes will continue to create extremely dangerous conditions on the roads.
According to the weather service, from Christmas Eve to Monday, another low-pressure system from the Pacific Ocean will send the next tidal wave to the Pacific Northwest and then into northern California.