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Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeWorldDeaths in 'blizzard of the century' in the US rise to 47,...

Deaths in ‘blizzard of the century’ in the US rise to 47, and governor compares situation to war zone

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The most severe cold wave in decades in the US has left at least 47 dead since last week, according to the AFP news agency. In the state of New York, where 25 of the victims died, Governor Kathy Hochul reinforced this Monday (26) requests for people to remain at home and said that the storm, called by her the “blizzard of the century”, could be far from over.

The city of Buffalo, located 600 km from New York, is one of the hardest hit by the severe storm. Bodies were found inside vehicles and under piles of snow, which reached 2.4 meters in some areas, making it difficult for emergency services to work.

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“It’s like going to a war zone,” said Hochul, adding that the situation remains dangerous, with the lives of residents in the region at risk.

The city’s international airport will remain closed until at least this Tuesday (27), and a driving ban remains in effect for all of Erie County, where the metropolis of Buffalo is located.

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More than 200,000 people in several states woke up without electricity on Christmas morning. Others had to change their travel plans, although the intense storm showed signs of easing.

According to a bulletin released by the National Weather Service (NWS, its acronym in English), much of the eastern US “would remain frozen on Monday, before a trend of moderation is established from Tuesday”.

The extreme weather sent subzero temperatures across 48 of the 50 US states over the weekend, impacting travelers with thousands of canceled flights and stranding residents in homes covered in ice and snow.

At least 47 weather-related deaths were confirmed in nine states, including 25 in New York state. The authorities, however, already admit that the number should increase.

“We are facing an event that will be talked about for generations,” said Hochul, adding that the brutality of the cold wave surpassed that of the historic snowstorm in the region, in 1977, in the “intensity, duration and ferocity of the winds”.

Earlier, the NWS had warned that blizzard conditions in the Great Lakes region of western New York would continue into Sunday, with “additional snow accumulations” of nearly four feet.

A couple in Buffalo, across the Canadian border, told the AFP news agency that, with the roads completely impassable, they would not make the 10-minute drive to see their family for Christmas.

“It’s difficult, because the conditions are very bad […] Many fire departments don’t even send trucks to respond to calls,” said Rebecca Bortolin, 40.

The storm caused the cancellation of nearly 3,000 flights on Sunday (25), in addition to around 3,500 on Saturday and nearly 6,000 on Friday, according to the specialized website FlightAware. And, this Monday, about a thousand more flights were canceled, added the website. The most affected airports were Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York.

Road ice has also led to the temporary closure of some of the country’s busiest roads, including Interstate 70, which runs across much of the United States from east to west.

The extreme weather has severely affected power grids, with several power providers urging people to reduce usage to minimize blackouts in places like North Carolina and Tennessee.

At one point on Saturday (24), nearly 1.7 million customers nationwide were without power, according to Poweroutage.us. That number dropped substantially Sunday night, although more than 50,000 users in eastern states were still without power.

Canada was also affected by the storm, and all provinces had weather alerts. A bus crash in British Columbia over the weekend that killed four and injured 53 was believed to have been caused by ice on the roads.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power in Ontario and Quebec, and flights were canceled at airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

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