Frigid monster storm across US claims at least 24 lives

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Millions crouched to weather a frigid storm on Sunday morning that claimed the lives of at least 24 people across the United States. Snow drifts, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power.

The storm’s range was nearly unprecedented, from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande River along the border with Mexico. About 60% of the U.S. population faced some kind of winter weather advisory or warning, with temperatures well below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains, the National Weather Service said.

About 1,346 domestic and international flights were canceled as of early Sunday, according to tracking site FlightAware.

The forecaster said a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure dropped rapidly in a strong storm — occurred near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions such as high winds and snow.

storm The hurricane’s high winds and snow have created whiteout conditions that have paralyzed emergency response efforts and unleashed its full fury on Buffalo — New York Governor Kathy Hochul said nearly all of the city’s fire engines were on Saturday. It said it was stranded — and closed the airport until Tuesday morning, according to sources. Total snowfall at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 43 inches (109 cm) as of 7 a.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday daytime reveals a six-foot snowdrift and cars nearly covered in thousands of homes, some adorned with unlit holiday displays, underpowered and dark. With snow swirling in the streets, forecasters warned that an additional foot or two of snow could fall in some areas by early Monday morning in gusts of 40 mph winds.

Two people died Friday at their home outside Cheektowaga, N.Y., and another died in Buffalo after paramedics failed to treat their condition in time. Overnight, he had four more confirmed deaths, bringing the total to seven in Erie County.

“Some were found in cars, others were found on the road in snowmen,” Polonkaerts said. “I know people who have been stuck in their cars for more than two days.”

With sub-zero temperatures and a day-long power outage, Buffaloers were desperate to leave their homes and seek refuge in the heat. Hochul called it the longest blizzard ever in the city. But with all-white roads, it wasn’t an option for people like Jeremy Manahan, who charged his cell phone in a parked car after nearly 29 hours of power outages.

“We have one warming shelter, but it’s too far to get there. “And he can’t be outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frostbite.”

Dijak Ilunga of Gaithersburg, Md., was en route to spending Christmas with his daughters on Friday to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario when his SUV got stuck in Buffalo. Instead, they spent hours in the engine of a car that had been blown away by the wind and nearly buried in the snow.

By 4am on Saturday, fuel was almost gone, so Ilunga made the desperate choice to risk a howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. He carried his 6-year-old Destiny on his back, and 16-year-old Cindy cradled a Pomeranian puppy and stepped in his footsteps as they walked through the drifts.

“If I stay in the car, I will die here with my children,” he recalled. He cried as his family walked through the shelter door. “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”

The storm caused power outages in communities from Maine to Seattle. According to, fewer than 300,000 customers were out of service at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday, down from 1.7 million at its peak. In North Carolina, he had fewer than 6,600 customers without power, and he had more than 485,000 at his peak.

Concerns about the need for rolling blackouts subsided across the eastern states on Sunday after mid-Atlantic power grid operator PJM Interconnection said it could handle peak power usage for the day. PJM on Saturday called on the region’s 65 million consumers to conserve electricity as some power plants struggle to operate in the extreme cold.

Across six New England states, about 121,300 customers remained without power on Sunday, with Maine still the hardest hit.

In New York, more than 39,000 homes, including 27,000 in Erie County, remained without power on Sunday as crews battled high winds and found substations damaged. are on the ground and even the National Guard, who is expected to have 200 more by Monday, said they were struggling to get stuck in the snow.

Storm-related deaths have been reported across the country in recent days. 7 in Erie County, New York. Ten people have died in multiple crashes in Ohio. This includes a pileup with about 50 vehicles involved, a man whose sport utility vehicle was hit by a snowplow, and a utility his worker who was electrocuted. He killed four motorists in separate crashes in Missouri and Kansas. A Vermont woman struck by a fallen branch. An apparently homeless man found in freezing temperatures in Colorado. A woman fell into the ice of the Wisconsin River.

Temperatures at Tampa International Airport in Florida dropped below freezing for the first time in about five years, and West Palm Beach hit 43 degrees (6.1 degrees Celsius), according to the National Weather Service. Cooler temperatures and freezing sleet helped the iguanas fall from the trees.

Along Interstate 71 in Kentucky, Terry Henderson and her husband Rick bought a rig outfitted with a diesel heater, toilet and refrigerator after getting stranded trying to drive from Alabama to their home in Ohio over Christmas. I survived 34 hours of traffic jams.

“We should have stayed,” said Terry Henderson after they moved in again on Saturday.

In Buffalo, William Kress wakes up at 3 a.m. on Sundays, invites children aged 8, 9 and 12 to his mother’s house to wish them a Merry Christmas, and rides snowmobiles to move people around on the second day. I was allowed to. I left my car and frigid house stranded and went to a church that served as a warm haven.

He said he brought about 15 people to a church in Buffalo on Saturday in heavy, wind-blown snow. He was also able to bring home a man in need of dialysis who had been stuck in his car for 17 hours, where he was able to receive treatment.

“I felt like I had to,” Kress said.


Breiberg reported from Dallas. His AP journalist Mike Schneider from Orlando, Florida. Jonathan Mathis of Charleston, West Virginia. Ron Todd of Philadelphia. John Lavy of Charleston, West Virginia. Mark Levy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mark Levy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Wilson Ring of Stowe, Vermont contributed to this report.

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