Deadly winter storm kills at least 30 Forecasters warned on Sunday that travel chaos across the United States would create “potentially life-threatening hazards” for those who were away or working outdoors over Christmas.
“In some areas, being outdoors can cause frostbite within minutes,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.
“If you must travel or go outside, prepare for extreme cold by wearing layers of clothing to cover as many exposed skin areas as possible and pack a winter safety pack in your car,” it said.
The storm, which stretches from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande on the Mexican border, has swept across the United States in recent days, killing at least 30 people, according to an NBC News tally.
As of Sunday afternoon, 11 states had recorded deaths: Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Four people were killed in a three-vehicle crash Saturday on an interstate in Ohio and at least three in the Buffalo area, including two who suffered medical emergencies at home and were unable to be rescued because emergency crews were unable to reach them en route Historic blizzard conditions around them.
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that nearly every fire truck in the city was stuck in snow, and she asked residents to “be prepared, stay indoors and be safe this weekend.”
The city’s international airport was also closed.
Dazzling snowstorms, freezing rain and freezing temperatures also knocked out power in places from Maine to Seattle, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses and leaving millions worried about the possibility of power outages.
The NFL Tennessee Titans game in Nashville has been postponed an hour due to a planned power outage.
Power was being restored, but more than 250,000 homes were still without power by early Christmas morning, including nearly 100,000 in Maine, according to the Poweroutage.us website.
National Grid, which serves customers in New York and Massachusetts, asked customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island on Saturday to reduce natural gas use by Sunday afternoon.
Thousands of flights have also been canceled as people try to get home for Christmas. At least 1,200 flights were canceled across the country on Sunday, leaving last-minute holiday travelers stranded.
According to the environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Foundation, the increase in snowfall is partly due to climate change, as “a warmer planet is evaporating more water into the atmosphere.”
“Increased moisture means more precipitation in the form of heavy snow or downpours,” it said on its website.
“In the warmer months, this can lead to record-breaking flooding. But in winter — when our region is farther from the sun — temperatures drop, and instead of torrential rain, we get massive winter storms,” he said. it says.
Meanwhile, “conditions are expected to slowly improve as the system weakens,” the National Weather Service said. But on Sunday it said the high winds would “continue to filter cold air over the eastern two-thirds of Canada.”
It said “Great Lakes effect snowfall, high winds and reduced visibility” would continue downwind of the Great Lakes, and “harsh conditions” would remain in place across much of the country.
“Lake effect snow influenced by local blizzards is likely to continue into Christmas,” it said.
Daniel Arkin with Associated Press contributed.