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Prolonged winter storm kills at least 26 and leaves thousands without power

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the prolonged winter storm It brought heavy snow, high winds and brutal cold to most of the United States last week, killed at least 26 people and left hundreds of thousands without power.

Perhaps the worst impact was around Buffalo, New York, where 43 inches of snow fell Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The snowfall and blizzard made roads impassable, froze electrical substations and left at least seven people dead, Erie County officials said.

Conditions eased slightly on Sunday, allowing rescuers to get out and see the extent of the problem.

“I don’t want to say it’s going to be that because it would be a mistake for me to say that, because we know that there are people who have been stuck in cars for more than two days,” said the Erie County Executive. Mark Poloncarz said on Sunday. “There are people in homes that have sub-freezing temperatures.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul called it “the most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long history” because of its power and length.

“This is a crisis of epic proportions,” Hochul told CNN’s Paula Reid on Sunday.

Over the past week, this winter storm has brought dangerously cold temperatures, blizzard conditions and coastal flooding to nearly all of the United States, destroy Christmas plans along the way.

More than 55 million people remain under wind chill alert Sunday morning, and frost warnings are in effect across the South.

Blizzard conditions persisted over the Great Lakes on Sunday, as freezing cold temperatures gripped the eastern two-thirds of the country.

Some big cities in the Southeast, the Midwest and the East Coast recorded their coldest Christmas in decades. In Florida, it will be the coldest December 25 since 1983 for Miami, Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach. New York City also experienced record cold temperatures on Christmas Eve in several locations, including its JFK and LaGuardia airports. The high in Central Park was 15 degrees, marking the second December 24 cold in at least 150 years, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to rebound later in the week with a much appreciated warming trend with above normal temperatures.

According to PowerOutage.us. Since the start of the storm, the number of outages has sometimes exceeded one million customers.

A power grid operator for at least 13 states in the eastern half of the country asked Customers should save energy and set thermostats lower than usual from early Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday as usage has strained capacity.

The operator, PJM Interconnection, serves approximately 65 million people in all or part of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. . The operator warned that power outages could occur if the voltage becomes too high.

In New York, utility companies Con Edison and Natural Grid US also urged customers to conserve energy, citing extreme weather and increased energy demand on interstate pipelines carrying natural gas through the city.

Meanwhile, a power shortage in Texas prompted the US Department of Energy to declare an emergency on Friday, allowing the state’s energy provider to exceed environmental emissions standards until the energy consumption decreases.

In Jackson, Mississippi, freezing temperatures are hampering efforts to repair a major water main break Saturday night, which resulted in a loss of water pressure for residents, city officials said. .

“We are grateful to the crews who braved these freezing temperatures on this New Year’s Eve, while striving to restore pressure on local residents. Their sacrifice does not go unnoticed and is appreciated not only by this administration, but by all concerned residents,” the statement read.

Brutal weather also hampered travel over the busy holiday weekend, with more than 5,000 flights canceled On Friday, more than 3,400 flights canceled on Saturday and more than 1,350 flights canceled on Christmas Day.

Snow covers a vehicle on December 24, 2022 in Hamburg, New York.

Seven storm-related deaths have been reported in New York’s Erie County – which experienced blistering blizzard conditions and where Poloncarz, the county executive, said about 500 motorists were stranded in their vehicles from Friday evening to Saturday morning, despite a county driving ban put in place during the storm.

National Guard troops were called in to help “rescue people trapped in vehicles”, he said.

Poloncarz announced four of those deaths Sunday morning at a press conference.

“I know some were found in cars and some were found on the street in snow banks,” Poloncarz said.

Two people died in separate incidents Friday night when emergency medical personnel were unable to get to their homes in time for medical emergencies, Poloncarz said Saturday morning. Details on the third death, confirmed by a county spokesperson on Saturday afternoon, were not immediately available.

“The loss of two lives in Buffalo – storm-related – because people were unable to get medical attention, is yet another crisis situation unfolding before your eyes and you realize the ambulances and the emergency medical personnel cannot reach people during a blizzard. situation,” the Governor of New York. Kathy Hochul said Saturday.

Hochul said she will be asking the federal government for “a declaration of emergency that will allow us to seek reimbursement for extraordinary expenses of all overtime and the fact that we have provided mutual aid from other parts of the state.” .

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Powerful winter storm leaves first responders in need, official says

Other storm-related deaths have been reported across the country. They understand:

• Colorado: Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have reported two cold-related deaths since Thursday, with a man found near a building’s electrical transformer possibly seeking heat, and another at a camp in alley.

• Kansas: Three people have died in weather-related traffic crashes, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday.

• Kentucky: Three people died in the state, officials said, including one involving a car crash in Montgomery County.

• Missouri: One person died after a trailer slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek, Kansas City police said.

• Ohio: Eight people died in a weather-related car crash, including four in a Saturday morning crash on Interstate 75 when a tractor-trailer crossed the median and collided with a SUV and a pickup truck, authorities said. .

• Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one storm-related death on Friday.

• Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported a fatal accident Thursday due to winter conditions.

Strong winds behind the arctic cold front that crossed this week will bring snowy and lake-effect blizzard conditions to parts of the Great Lakes on Sunday at times.

Blizzard warnings, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories cover much of the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes region and the Ohio Valley.

An additional 8 to 16 inches of lake effect snow is possible.

The storm system is expected to gradually weaken as it moves across southeastern Canada, moving slowly over the next two days and drawing arctic air from Canada to much of the east from the country.

The Arctic blast will slowly moderate through Monday.

According to National Weather Service.

“In some areas, being outdoors can lead to frostbite within minutes,” the weather service warned.

As frigid air continues to blow over the warm waters of the Great Lakes, lake effect snows and blizzard conditions are expected to continue, but slowly become less severe.

Still, strong gusty winds initially reaching 60 mph accompanying the snow downwind of the Great Lakes will continue to create extremely dangerous conditions on the road.

On Christmas night through Monday, another low pressure system from the Pacific will deliver the next wave of moisture to the Pacific Northwest and then into northern California, according to the weather service.

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