New York, USA:
A brutal winter storm brought Christmas danger and misery to millions of Americans on Sunday, as snow and freezing temperatures blanketed parts of the eastern United States and the death toll from the weather rose to at least 32.
There was a crisis in Buffalo in western New York, as a snowstorm crippled the city and prevented emergency services from reaching the hardest-hit areas.
“It’s (like) going to a war zone, and the traffic on the side of the road is appalling,” said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, where eight feet (2.4 meters) of snow and electricity The power outage created a life-threatening situation.
Hochul told reporters Sunday night that residents were still in the throes of a “very dangerous, life-threatening situation,” and warned anyone in the area to stay indoors.
More than 200,000 people in several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had their holiday travel plans canceled even as the five-day blizzard and high winds showed signs of easing.
Extreme weather sent temperatures below freezing in all 48 U.S. states over the weekend, canceling thousands of flights and stranded residents in their snow-covered homes.
Nine states have confirmed 32 weather-related deaths, including at least 13 in Erie County, where Buffalo is located, and officials warned that number was sure to rise.
Officials described the historically dangerous conditions in the snow-covered Buffalo area, where hours of snow and bodies were found under vehicles and banks of snow as emergency crews struggled to find people in need.
The city’s international airport remains closed through Tuesday, and a driving ban remains in effect for the entire Erie County.
“We’re now talking about a 22-year blizzard not just today, but for generations to come,” Hochul said, adding that the storm was “intensity, duration, ferocity of the wind.”
Some residents did not expect power to be restored until Tuesday because of icy substations, one reported buried under 18 feet of snow, a senior county official said.
“Conditions are terrible”
Blizzard conditions in the Great Lakes region of western New York, caused by lake effects, continued Sunday, with “an additional 2 to 3 feet of snow tonight,” the National Weather Service warned.
A couple living in Buffalo on the Canadian border told AFP on Saturday they would not drive the 10 minutes to visit family for Christmas because the roads are completely impassable.
Rebecca Bortolin, 40, said: “It was tough because the conditions were so bad … A lot of the fire departments didn’t even send out trucks.”
A wider travel nightmare has sweeping consequences for millions.
The storm, one of the most violent in decades, forced the cancellation of nearly 3,000 U.S. flights on Sunday, about 3,500 on Saturday and nearly 6,000 on Friday, according to tracking website Flightaware.com flight.
Travelers remained stranded or delayed at airports throughout the Christmas period, including in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York.
The icy and snowy conditions also temporarily closed some of the nation’s busiest traffic routes, including Interstate 70.
Drivers have been warned to stay off the roads – even as the country hits what is usually the busiest time of year for travel.
Extreme weather has put a severe strain on the grid, with several power providers urging millions of people to reduce power usage to minimize rolling blackouts in places like North Carolina and Tennessee.
At one point on Saturday, nearly 1.7 million customers lost power in the freezing cold, according to tracker poweroutage.us.
By Sunday night, that number had dropped significantly, though more than 48,000 customers were still without power in eastern states.
In British Columbia, Canada, four people were killed when a bus overturned Saturday, believed to be caused by icy roads, was taken to hospital, two of whom remained in critical condition early Sunday.
Hundreds of thousands of people were without power in Ontario and Quebec, many flights were canceled in major cities and passenger train service between Toronto and Ottawa was suspended.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)