NEW YORK: A lethal blizzard is wreaking havoc in the eastern US, with millions of Americans facing a brutal battle that has reportedly claimed 31 lives due to the weather condition.
Buffalo in western New York is currently being hit by a devastating winter storm, creating a catastrophe situation since emergency services can’t get to high-impact areas.
“This will go down in history as Buffalo’s most devastating storm,” said Kathy Hochul, governor of New York State and a resident of Buffalo.
She told reporters on Sunday night: “The vehicles by the sides of the roads are shocking.” “It is like going to a war zone.”
As numbing cold and heavy “lake-effect” snow—the result of arctic air flowing over warmer lake waters—lingered throughout the holiday weekend, most of the fatalities have been concentrated in and around Buffalo, which is located on the edge of Lake Erie in western New York.
Additionally, Vermont, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Colorado all recorded storm-related fatalities. Iguanas froze and fell from trees in South Florida as a result of the extremely low temperatures.
A “very dangerous and life-threatening situation” still existed for the locals, Hochul said, advising everyone in the vicinity to stay indoors.
The coldest state in the US is Montana, in the west, where temperatures have fallen to -50 F (-45 C). Ontario and Quebec in Canada are currently seeing the worst of the storm.
Mark Poloncarz, the executive of Erie County, announced that the storm’s confirmed death toll increased to 13 on Sunday from the three that had been recorded overnight in the Buffalo area.
According to Poloncarz, the death toll will probably continue to rise. The most recent victims included some discovered in cars and others in snow banks.
“This is not the Christmas any of us hoped for or expected. “My deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones,” Poloncarz tweeted on Sunday.
North Buffalo retiree John Burns, 58, claimed that the storm and “mean and nasty” weather kept him and his family indoors for 36 hours.
“Nobody was outside.” Nobody was even taking their dogs for a walk. “Nothing was going on for two days,” he stated.
Hochul told journalists on Sunday that the Biden government had agreed to back her appeal for a federal disaster designation.
Approximately 200 troops of the National Guard were called into action in western New York to assist emergency responders, conduct health inspections, and deliver supplies to shelters, according to Governor Hochul.
On Sunday, the larger storm system was moving east after forcing hundreds of commercial flights to be cancelled during the busy holiday travel season and knocking out electricity to up to 1.5 million customers at its peak late last week.
According to PowerOutage.us, there were more than 150,000 households and businesses without electricity in the United States on Sunday, a significant decrease from the 1.8 million without power as of early Saturday.
As per Poloncarz, 15,000 people in Buffalo were still without electricity as of Sunday night.
Christmas Day temperatures in the central and eastern United States remained far below average and below freezing even as far south as the Gulf Coast, as per National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Rich Otto, although they started to rise from the widespread near-zero readings on Saturday.
The most recent NWS tally indicates that by Sunday, the Buffalo airport had received close to 4 feet of snow.
Whiteout conditions persisted south of Buffalo into the afternoon as persistent squalls dumped 2-3 inches of snow every hour.
On Sunday, there were roughly 120,000 consumers without energy in Quebec. The reconnection of some households, as per officials, could take several days.