A nearly week-long winter storm that battered much of the United States plunged temperatures to life-threatening levels, caused blizzards and flooding and left more than a quarter of a million people without power during the day of Christmas.
Blizzard conditions continue across the Great Lakes as freezing cold temperatures sweep across the eastern two-thirds of the United States, with some major cities in the Southeast, Midwest and East Coast recording their Christmas on colder for decades.
Large areas of the central and eastern United States remain under wind chill warnings and advisories as frost warnings are in effect across the south.
New York City experienced record cold temperatures on Christmas Eve in multiple locations, including its JFK and LaGuardia airports. The high in Central Park was 15 degrees, marking its second coldest December 24 in at least 150 years, according to the National Weather Service.
At least 22 deaths have been attributed to dangerous weather since Wednesday, and some people in the northeast are spending the holidays without enough heat or hot water as extremely cold temperatures persist.
In the United States, 275,856 homes and businesses in the United States had no power service at 1 a.m. ET, including many in Maine and New York, according to PowerOutage.us. Since the start of the storm, the number of outages has sometimes exceeded one million customers.
A power grid operator in at least 13 states in the eastern half of the country has asked customers to save energy and set thermostats lower than usual from the start of Saturday until 10 a.m. Sunday, because use 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. , and warning power outages could occur if the voltage becomes too large.
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.
The 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 1,000 canceled for Christmas Day.
Road conditions were no better in parts of the country amid whiteout conditions and icy, snowy pavement.
In New York’s Erie County – which is experiencing searing blizzard conditions – 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, according to County Manager Mark Poloncarz.
National Guard troops were called in to help “rescue people trapped in vehicles” and drive medical workers in so they could relieve colleagues who had been working in hospitals for more than a day, Poloncarz said. .
In Seattle, Washington, online videos documented cars sliding on icy roads and crashing into each other and residents slipping as they walked on sidewalks, CNN affiliate KOMO reported.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she would ask the federal government for an emergency declaration after a scorching winter storm.
“I will be asking the federal government for an emergency declaration that will allow us to seek reimbursement for the extraordinary expenses of all overtime and the fact that we have provided mutual aid from other parts of the state,” Hochul told journalists on Saturday. “We’ve deployed individuals – utility teams have come but we’ve also made sure we have all the vehicles we need.”
All three New York storm-related deaths were reported in Erie County. 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 – related to the storm – because people were unable to get medical attention, is again a crisis situation unfolding before your eyes and you realize that ambulances and personnel emergency medical cannot get to people during a blizzard situation,” Hochul added.
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 an electrical transformer in an apartment building possibly seeking heat, and another in a camp in an alley.
• Kansas: Three people have died in weather-related traffic crashes, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday.
• Kentucky: Three people have died in the state, officials said, including one in 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 have died in weather-related car crashes, including four in a Saturday morning crash on Interstate 75 when a tractor-trailer crossed the median and collided with an SUV and a van, authorities said.
• Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one death related to the storm on Friday.
• Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported a fatal accident Thursday due to winter conditions.
In pictures: Winter storm hits the United States
The storm system is expected to gradually weaken as it moves across southeastern Canada, moving slowly over the next two days and dragging arctic air from Canada across much of the east from the country.
The Arctic blast felt in the eastern two-thirds of the country will slowly moderate through Monday, but dangerous conditions will persist into Christmas Day.
Cold temperatures combined with dangerous wind chills will create a life-threatening hazard to stranded travelers, people working outdoors, livestock and pets, according to the 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.