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Extreme cold conditions prevailed in NY State. Photo credit: Flow Clark

Extreme cold and winter storms sweep across US

More than a million households without electricity, thousands of canceled flights, temperatures in the double-digit minus range and already 41 fatalities: The US is being overwhelmed by an enormous cold wave.

Published: December 27, 2022, 5:42 am

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    A violent winter storm swept across the United States over the Christmas weekend, wreaking havoc in large parts of the country and claiming up to 41 lives. Temperatures were in the double-digit minus range in many regions.

    With icy winds and severe temperature drops, the situation was life-threatening in some places, especially in the region and around the Great Lakes in the north-east of the US and on the border with Canada. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power.

    New York State like a war zone

    For many people, the storm “Elliott” brought a Christmas with extreme conditions. The storm hit the city of Buffalo, which is located on the shore of Lake Erie in the US state of New York, with all its force.

    Heavy snowfall and hurricane-force winds caused so-called whiteout conditions on the roads, in which drivers lost their orientation due to the extremely limited visibility. Many people were stuck in their homes and cars. At times, the police and fire brigade were unable to respond to emergency calls.

    According to authorities, seven people died in Erie County alone on Sunday. On Saturday, rescue workers helped with the birth of a child over the phone, according to the New York Times.

    The death toll continued to rise. US media reported on Sunday that significantly more than 30 people were killed by the winter storm. The NBC broadcaster, citing its own count, reported 41 fatalities, while the ABC broadcaster said at least 39 people had died. Rescue workers and officials expected the number of victims to continue to rise.

    Blackout: 1,6 million households without electricity

    TV images showed streets covered with a thick layer of ice. Cars and trucks slid across the road, crashed into each other or veered off the road.

    Hundreds of thousands of households were affected by power outages over the weekend. On Saturday morning (local time), more than 1,6 million households were temporarily without electricity, as the PowerOutage website showed.

    The Arctic cold front also interfered with the Christmas plans of many travelers: According to the flight data website FlightAware, more than 10 000 flights were canceled from Friday to Sunday. Chaos reigned at many airports. Some have been temporarily closed.

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