(CNN) — A severe winter storm continues to lash large parts of the United States, resulting in at least 37 deaths nationwide, with parts of western New York buried in up to four feet of snow, trapping vehicles and For thousands of people over the Christmas weekend without power.
New York Governor Cathy Hochul told CNN that the storm was “the most destructive storm in Buffalo’s long history.”
Heavy snow and blizzards made roads impassable in zero visibility, frozen power substations and killed at least 17 people across the state as of Sunday night.
Western New York is drowning in thick “lake effect” snow, which forms when cold air moves over the warm waters of the Great Lakes, just a month after the region was hit by a historic snow storm.
Hochul said, “Our state and county sweepers are out there non-stop, buying time and putting themselves at risk, driving into blizzards indiscriminately to clear the roads.”
Due to blizzard conditions in the area, about 500 motorists were stranded in their vehicles from Friday night to Saturday morning, according to Polonkarz, who described the dire situation on the road.
“Think about looking a few feet in front of you and seeing a white sheet for over 24 hours. So he was out there under the worst of conditions,” Polonkarz said. “They were constant snowstorms and blackouts like that nobody could see where they were going. Nobody had any idea what was going on.”
While unclaimed vehicles ran through snow-covered streets, hundreds of cars still lined Buffalo’s streets, conditions were tough inside homes as well.
During the press conference, Hochul said that some residents have been in their homes for the past 56 hours, some without electricity due to the cold. This is not because of paucity of resources, the governor said, but because of the mobility and accessibility challenge faced by the utilities.
Hochul said that as of Sunday night, power had been restored to 94.5% of Erie County residents and 87% of Buffalo residents.
Still, 12,000 homes and businesses were without power in Erie County on Sunday night, and many more were without power or heat as of Tuesday, Polonkarz said.
Snow and freezing cold temperatures will continue in Buffalo on Monday, with lows of -5°C during the day and -7°C at night, according to the National Weather Service.
Terrible consequences of the cold storm
Over the past week, a long-lasting winter storm has battered the United States with dangerously low temperatures and icy winds, causing massive power outages and canceling thousands of flights.
More than 10 million people across the South were under a freeze alert on Monday, including residents of Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee in Florida, as well as Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham in Alabama.
Freezing temperatures are expected in the affected areas, where temperatures will range between -12 and -6 °C, which could destroy crops and damage pipelines. Most of these alerts will end on Monday morning when temperatures finally begin to recover from the polar air.
Nationwide, more than 90,000 customers were still without power on Christmas night, according to PowerOutage.US. Since the start of the storm, the number of outages has sometimes exceeded one million customers.
The storm 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 2,800 on Christmas Day.
Dangerously cold winds continued across much of the United States on Christmas morning after a nearly week-long winter storm dropped temperatures to life-threatening levels, brought blizzards and coastal flooding, and left hundreds of thousands dead. Homes and businesses lost power.
More than 10 million people are under cold wind warnings this Sunday morning, and there are frost warnings in the south of the country.
Temperatures are expected to rise towards the end of the week, a welcome upward trend and above normal temperatures.
Many Floridians will experience their coldest Christmas yet: It will be the coldest December 25 since 1983 in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
New York City posted record coldest temperatures on Christmas Eve, including JFK and LaGuardia airports. The maximum temperature in Central Park was −9 °C, making December 24 the second coldest day in at least 150 years. National Meteorological Service,
Winter storm kills dozens across the country
At least 37 deaths have been attributed to dangerous weather conditions since Wednesday, with some residents in the Northeast spending the holidays without adequate heat or hot water as the bitterly cold weather persisted.
New York-17: According to Erie County Executive Mark Polonkarz, 16 people died due to the winter storm in Erie County. According to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, one more person died in Niagara County.
Colorado – 2: Police reported two weather-related deaths in Colorado Springs.
Wisconsin – 1: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported a fatal accident last Thursday due to the winter weather.
Tennessee – 1: The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one death related to the winter storm on Friday.
Ohio – 9: “Four people died in a crash on the Ohio Turnpike Friday as a result of weather-related auto accidents,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) confirmed that four other people died in a weather-related crash on I-75 on Saturday. Another person died in a weather-related accident in Crawford County, according to OSHP.
Kentucky – 3: Three people have died in the state. Gov. Andy Beshear announced the two deaths Friday morning. One more death was confirmed in Montgomery County due to a car crash.
Kansas – 4: Three people have died in weather-related traffic accidents, the Kansas Highway Patrol told CNN on Friday.
Mussoorie – 1: First responders from the Kansas City Police Department say a man has died after his camper skidded off an icy driveway and plunged into a frozen creek.
According to PowerOutage.us, about 175,000 US homes and businesses were without power as of 8:30 a.m., many of them in Maine and New York. Since the start of the storm, the number of outages has exceeded one million customers at various times.
A power grid operator in at least 13 states in the eastern part of the country asked customers to save energy and set thermostats lower than usual from Saturday morning to 10 a.m. Sunday because its use was straining 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. Is. , and warned that blackouts could occur if the load was excessive.
In New York, utilities Con Edison and Natural Grid US also urged customers to save power, citing inclement weather conditions and increased power demand on interstate pipelines carrying natural gas into the city.
Meanwhile, power shortages in Texas prompted the US Department of Energy to declare a state of emergency on Friday, allowing the state’s power provider to exceed environmental emissions standards until electricity use declines.
In Jackson, Mississippi, freezing temperatures were hampering efforts to repair a major water main break late Saturday, city officials said, reducing water pressure for residents.
“We are very grateful to the staff who brave these freezing temperatures this Christmas Eve as they work to restore pressure on residents. Their sacrifice does not go unnoticed and not only this This is appreciated by the administration but also by all the affected residents.” said in the statement.
What to expect as the storm gradually weakens and dangerous conditions persist
A powerful blizzard and winter weather warning system continues to move away from the Northeast, but many cities and towns remain covered in thick snow. In the span of 24 hours, Barraga, Michigan received 4 feet of snow, while Watertown, New York received 34 inches of rain.
According to the National Weather Service, Grand Rapids, Michigan had the snowiest Christmas Eve ever, with a record 26 centimeters of snow.
A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for Buffalo, Jamestown and Watertown in New York and will expire over the next few days. Forecasts show Jamestown could see 8 more inches of snow, Buffalo 14 inches and Watertown 3 feet more. Winds can also blow at a speed of 40 miles per hour.
A lake-effect snow warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday north of Jamestown, an area where up to 45 inches is possible.
According to the National Weather Service, the persistent lake-effect snow drifting downstream from the Great Lakes will gradually become less intense, but the Arctic wind enveloping the eastern half of the country will slow to moderate.
Lake effect snowfall will continue to create dangerous travel conditions for the next few days and conditions are expected to improve gradually through the week.
The low pressure system is forecast to move into Canada, while another system will cross North America early through Monday, bringing snow from the northern plains to the Midwest.
Forecasters said the rest of the eastern part of the country would remain covered in snow until Monday before easing on Tuesday.
— CNN’s Joe Sutton, Isa Kauffman-Gabel, Selina Tabor, Mike Saenz and David J. Lopez contributed to this report.