Blizzard of the Century kills nearly 50 in the United States
Steph Deschamps / December 27, 2022
The severe winter storm hitting the United States has killed at least 47 people nationwide, including 25 in one county of New York State alone, and this "blizzard of the century" is far from over, authorities warned Monday.
It's far too early to say it's over," New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned, saying up to a foot of snow was still expected. "This is clearly the blizzard of the century," she added at a news conference from her hometown of Buffalo.
Although the intensity of the storm is not the same as in recent days, it is "still dangerous to be outside," she warned.
Western New York, accustomed to cold and stormy weather, was buried under meters of snow over the Christmas weekend, suffering polar temperatures since last week.
As of Sunday night, the death toll in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, was already 13, but local officials have since confirmed 12 more deaths, "bringing the total blizzard death toll to 25," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Monday.
Some people were found dead in their cars or outside, and others died of cardiac arrest while trying to clear snow while temperatures are still frigid, he said.
He said he expects that more victims will gradually be found.
The total number of deaths confirmed by the authorities across nine U.S. states is at least 47 deaths. In Ohio, road accidents related to the weather have claimed nine lives, the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed to AFP.
"My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one," tweeted U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday, indicating that he had spoken on the phone with the governor, and promising to provide the necessary federal resources.
Buffalo's streets were still largely blocked Monday due to the impressive amounts of snow that fell. Images from downtown showed cars across the road, covered in snow.
"Please, unless you are part of the emergency services, do not drive," Poloncarz urged. "Conditions are bad."
A travel ban was still in effect Monday in the western part of the county, but was being defied by some residents, he lamented.
What we're doing today is getting people to doctors, nurses and hospitals," county sheriff John Garcia explained Monday morning on CNN. "The roads are finally starting to be passable because the winds have died down."
During the height of the storm, rescue workers were unable to reach people in distress, such as those stranded in their cars or homes without power.
"It's heartbreaking to get calls from families with children, saying they are frozen," Garcia said.
Despite the perilous conditions, Buffalo police have rescued "hundreds" of people, said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Electricity has been restored to more than 13,000 homes in the past 24 hours, Mark Poloncarz said Monday morning, but more than 12,000 homes are still without power. Some will not be able to be connected to the network until Tuesday, he warned.
Since Wednesday evening, the United States has been hit by this storm of rare intensity, whose icy winds have caused significant snowfall, especially in the Great Lakes region.
Tens of millions of Americans have seen their Christmas weekend disrupted by massive power outages, roads becoming impassable and thousands of flights canceled, causing chaos in airports.
As of Monday, about 3,500 flights were still canceled in the U.S., according to the tracking site Flightaware.com.
Conditions are expected to improve only gradually as the week progresses.
The weather "will continue to cause hazardous travel conditions locally for the next two days," the U.S. Weather Service (NWS) said in its latest national bulletin.
"Most of the eastern U.S. will remain in freezing conditions during the day on Monday, before a more moderate trend sets in beginning on Tuesday," it added.