Dangerously cold wind chills will freeze much of the eastern two-thirds of the country as a monstrous winter storm continues to wreak havoc through the holiday weekend, forecasters have warned.
Blizzards and an Arctic blast will impact the Midwest to the Northeast, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin Saturday, adding that travel will be “extremely dangerous” and “at times impossible” where whiteout conditions occur.
The storm has already claimed the lives of multiple people, and hundreds of thousands have been left without power. Holiday travelers have encountered delays and cancellations.
What to know
- At least 28 people have died in weather-related fatalities. The deaths occurred in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, New York, Colorado and Michigan.
- The life-threatening cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers who become stranded, forecasters have warned.
- The severe weather is causing travel chaos across the U.S.
- The arctic blast is expected to continue into Christmas Day but lessen in severity, according to the National Weather Service.
Huge mounds of snow pictured in Buffalo
Drivers in Idaho urged to use 'extreme caution'
Water pressure ‘fluctuating’ in Jackson, Mississippi, amid frigid temperatures
JACKSON, Miss. — The water system in Jackson, Mississippi, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing “fluctuating” pressure impacting residents on Saturday amid frigid temperatures, officials said.
Some neighborhoods in Jackson had low water pressure and residents said they had no water pressure on Christmas Eve.
As the temperature remained below freezing, production slowed at one of the city’s water treatment plants while officials worked to correct the pressure drop they believed was caused by leaks and water line breaks.
City spokesperson Melissa Payne said the decreasing temperature was contributing to an increasing number of breaks.
The potential for further disruptions to Jackson’s water system comes just months after the city of about 150,000 residents lost water in late August.
The water system fell into crisis after flooding exacerbated longstanding problems in one of two water treatment plants. Most of Jackson lost running water for several days and people waited in lines for water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets.
In February 2021, tens of thousands of Jackson residents were left without running water for days after pipes froze, which had temperatures mirrored during this week’s cold snap.
Con Edison and National Grid urge customers to conserve energy due to heavy demand
Two utility companies serving New York and the Northeast are asking customers to conserve energy as below-freezing temperatures are overburdening interstate gas pipelines and could lead to more power outages.
Con Edison asked its customers Saturday to set thermostats at the lowest comfortable temperature; use appliances only as needed; hold off on using appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers; and making sure heating vents are unobstructed and working properly.
The call for conservation applies to Con Edison’s 1.1 million natural gas, 3.5 million electric customers and its steam customers in Manhattan. It remains in effect until further notice.
National Grid, which services customers in New York and Massachusetts, is asking its customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island to reduce natural gas usage until Sunday afternoon. Some 1.9 million customers are affected.
Arctic blast to lessen in coming days but hazardous conditions will remain through Monday
An arctic blast that forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and contributed to nearly two dozen deaths will continue into Christmas Day but lessen in severity, according to the National Weather Service.
"Blustery west to northwesterly winds behind this expansive system will continue to direct arctic air from central Canada down into much of the eastern two-thirds of the country, with only slow moderation of temperatures through the rest of the weekend into Monday," the National Weather Service said.
In the West, the arctic front will continue over the next couple of days to bring snow across the northern Plains into the Midwest, with areas of rain and freezing rain over parts of the Northern High Plains on Sunday.
The Pacific Northwest, northern Idaho and western Montana could see freezing rain.
Across the country, slick roads and white-out conditions are leaving a trail of car crashes, traffic pile-ups and power outages. The weather is not only wreaking havoc on travel but on electric grids, with hundreds of thousands of people without power across the country.
Deadly crash in Ohio raises weather-related fatalities to at least 27
Four people died in a crash in Ohio on Saturday morning, bringing the total number of weather-related deaths during the winter storm to at least 27.
The three-vehicle crash happened about 8:30 a.m. on southbound Interstate 75 in Franklin Township, Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
A tractor-trailer was northbound on the interstate when it went off the side of the road and into the median, crashing through a cable barrier and ditch, and striking a GMC Terrain and Ford F-150 in the southbound lanes, authorities said.
Two people in the GMC died at the scene. Authorities identified them as 32-year-old Lauren M. Hahn, of Westland, Michigan, and her passenger, 63-year-old Kimberly A. Siegrist of Brighton, Michigan.
Two people in the F-150 also died. They were identified as driver Jeremy D. R. Boehne, 32, and passenger Karen M. Boehne, 33, both of Farmington, Michigan.
The driver of the tractor-trailer had minor injuries, the highway patrol said.
Inclement weather was a factor in the crash, according to the agency.
All southbound lanes remained closed for just under seven hours and were later reopened.
On Friday, four people died and multiple others were injured in a 46-vehicle pileup on the Ohio Turnpike.
3 dead in New York as storm blankets parts of state, traps residents, knocks out power
BUFFALO, N.Y — The storm unleashed its full fury on Buffalo, with hurricane-force winds causing whiteout conditions. Emergency response efforts were paralyzed and the city’s international airport was shut down.
At least three people died in the Buffalo area, including two who suffered medical emergencies in their homes and couldn’t be saved because emergency crews were unable to reach them amid historic blizzard conditions.
Deep snow, single-digit temperatures and day-old power outages sent Buffalo residents scrambling Saturday to get out of their houses to anywhere that had heat
Forecasters said 28 inches of snow accumulated as of Saturday in Buffalo. Last month, areas just south of the city saw a record 6 feet of snow from a single storm.
The latest storm knocked out the furnace in the Buffalo home of Brian LaPrade, who woke up Saturday morning to indoor temperatures dipping to below 50 degrees.
“This morning I had to go out and dig out the vents,” LaPrade said. “As it was, the snow was taller than my snow blower.”
Plows were on the roads, but large snow drifts, abandoned cars and downed power lines were slowing progress.
Western New York often sees dramatic lake-effect snow, which is caused by cool air picking up moisture from the warm water, then dumping it on the land. But even area residents found conditions to be dire on Christmas Eve.
Latricia Stroud said she and her two daughters, 1 and 12, were stranded without heat or power in their Buffalo house since Friday afternoon, with the snow too deep to leave.
“I have to go over a snowbank to get out,” Stroud told the AP. “There’s a warming center, I just need a ride to get there."
Christmas Eve travelers face thousands of flight cancellations and delays
More flights were canceled Saturday as the winter storm continued to batter the United States.
About 3,100 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled, and around 7,100 were delayed, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
About 300 flights departing from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a major air traffic hub, were delayed, according to the site.
Flights through Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and Denver International Airport also accounted for several hundred delays and cancellations, according to FlightAware.
About 390,000 customers without power
The lights were back on for thousands of customers, but about 390,000 were still without electricity Saturday night, according to outage tracking site PowerOutage.us.
Outages remain in Washington state, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
More than a third of the outages were in Maine, where 142,335 customers were without power, according to the site.
The outage numbers are an improvement from a peak of more than 1.6 million.
Winter storm death toll climbs to 23
At least 23 people have died as a punishing winter storm continues its icy barrage on much of the country.
In Michigan, an 82-year-old woman was found dead Friday morning outside an assisted living facility in Bath Township, north of Lansing, local police said. A snow plow driver clearing the facility’s parking lot found the woman curled up in the snow. She was brought inside and treated for extreme cold exposure but died at a local hospital.
In New York, two weather-related deaths were recorded in Cheektowaga in Erie County and a third in the city of Buffalo, according to local officials.
And in Colorado, Denver officials said two people have died since Thursday from environmental exposure. A final cause and manner of death will be determined by the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.
Earlier, 17 deaths were recorded in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio.
Restaurant on Lake Erie covered in ice
The powerful winter storm, which blasted New York's Erie County and surrounding areas, left one man's family restaurant covered in snow and ice.
Randy Hoak, supervisor of the town of Hamburg, was driving around Saturday surveying the impact after blizzard-like conditions hit the county located south of Buffalo.
On his drive he passed Hoak's Lakeshore Restaurant, owned by his cousins, and saw thick icicles hanging off a side that faces Lake Erie.
Hoak recorded a video of the rare sight and shared it online.
All flights cancelled out of Portland International
All mainline flights out of Portland International Airport today have been canceled through midnight, and a significant number of regional flights are expected to cancel throughout the day due to freezing rain conditions in Portland.
Gov. Hochul deploys National Guard
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed the National Guard Saturday afternoon in response to the winter storm impacting much of the country. Hochul deployed more than 50 soldiers from the New York National Guard to assist New Yorkers facing emergencies and unable to travel.
“New Yorkers are used to winter storms, but this one packed a punch and caused complete whiteout conditions in Western New York however, additional help is on the way,” Hochul said. “Our state agency personnel and local emergency responders have been coordinating throughout the storm and we thank them for being away from their families this holiday weekend as they work to keep our communities safe. Please stay home today if you are in areas experiencing blizzard like conditions and know that roads will be icy across the state as we continue to experience freezing temperatures in the teens and single digits.”
More than 2,700 flights cancelled due to winter storm
There have been more than 2,700 flight cancellations nationwide as of late Saturday afternoon, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware. More than 6,400 flights have also been delayed thus far on Saturday. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Denver International are among the most impacted airports.
Gov. Hochul: 74,000 without power in NY
Buffalo Niagara International Airport closed through Monday
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday that the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be closed through Monday morning and almost every fire truck in Buffalo was stranded in the snow.
“No matter how many emergency vehicles we have, they cannot get through the conditions as we speak,” Hochul said.
More than 200,000 without power in both Maine and North Carolina
More than 200,000 residents of both Maine and North Carolina were without power as of about 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that aggregates live power-outage data from utilities nationwide.
In North Carolina, 242,882 residents — about 5% of the state's energy customers — had lost power, with outages spread throughout the state.
In Maine, 203,421 residents — about 23% of the state's energy customers — were without power, with most of the outages concentrated in the state's southern and western counties.
New York and South Carolina also reported significant power outages, with more than 60,000 residents in New York and more than 56,000 in South Carolina subject to outages. That amounts to about 7% of energy customers in New York and 2% in South Carolina.
Connecticut governor urges local officials to keep shelters open
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont urged local officials to keep 66 shelters and warming centers across the state open to serve residents who have lost power or are without shelter.
“The extreme cold being experienced right now by a vast majority of the nation poses a threat to the health and safety to those without heat, and our municipalities must continue to offer warmth and shelter to those who need it, especially as Christmas Eve approaches," the governor said in a statement.
Ninety-three towns and cities across the state were reported to have power outages as of noon Saturday, according to information provided by the governor’s office. Thirty-nine of those were expected to have power restored by 6 p.m., 38 by midnight, and 16 by 8 a.m. Sunday, the governor’s office said.
Connecticut residents can call 211 to find the nearest available shelters and obtain transportation to shelters.
New York to ask for state of emergency declaration amid deadly storm
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a news conference Saturday that she would ask the federal government for a declaration of emergency amid a deadly winter storm that has killed at least two people in the state.
“I’ll be asking the federal government for a declaration of emergency that’ll allow us to seek reimbursements for the extraordinary expenses of all the overtime and the fact that we brought in mutual aid from other parts of the state,” Hochul told reporters Saturday. “We’ve deployed individuals — the utility crews have come but also making sure that we have all the vehicles we need.”
Tennessee Titans delay game 1 hour to conserve power at mayor’s request
The Tennessee Titans have delayed their Saturday game by one hour following a request from Mayor John Cooper to conserve power, as the winter storm has led to rolling blackouts.
"I appreciate the @Titans delaying kickoff for one hour as @TVAnews commits to immediately ending the rolling blackouts. NES continues to work hard to minimize disruption for residents this holiday weekend."
More than 1,900 flight cancellations nationwide Saturday
As of late Saturday morning, FlightAware listed the following updates for delays and cancellations:
Total delays: 11,682
Total delays within, into or out of the United States: 3,856
Total cancellations: 3,999
Total cancellations within, into or out of the United States: 1,963
Nashville mayor asks NFL team to postpone Christmas Eve game
Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Saturday morning called on the Tennessee Titans to postpone their afternoon game in a tweet “in solidarity with our neighbors,” amid ongoing rolling blackouts by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Cooper said the TVA’s unilateral rolling blackouts will continue and asked all nonessential businesses to reduce power usage. “TVA needs to invest in infrastructure to withstand extreme temps,” he added.
Duke Energy in North Carolina announces “emergency outages” amid bitter temperatures
Duke Energy, the electric power company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced “emergency outages” Saturday morning as bitterly cold temps drove high energy demand across the state.
“We have begun short, temporary power outages. These emergency outages are necessary to protect the energy grid against longer, more widespread outages. We appreciate your patience,” Duke Energy said in a tweet.
Two weather-related fatalities in Cheektowaga, NY
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted Saturday that the winter storm had resulted in two fatalities in the region.
“We are currently aware of two fatalities; both were in Cheektowaga and were emergency medical events that responders could not get to. They were not stuck in vehicles. We are preparing to encounter more fatalities as search and rescue continues throughout the day.”
Wild winter storm envelops US, snarling Christmas travel
A wild winter storm continued to envelop much of the United States on Saturday, bringing blinding blizzards, freezing rain, flooding and life-threatening cold to most of the country. A major electricity grid operator that serves 65 million people across the eastern U.S. says power plants are having difficulty operating in the frigid weather and has asked residents to refrain from unnecessary use of electricity.
Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection issued the emergency call for conservation system-wide — asking residents in 13 states to set thermostats lower than usual, to postpone use of major appliances like stoves and dishwashers and to turn off lights. Commercial and industrial power users have also been asked to cut back.
“We may be calling for rolling blackouts. The cause is, one increased demand across the PJM system. And two, the lack of ability for some power plants to operate in this extreme weather,” said Susan Buehler, spokesperson for the utility.
PJM territory covers all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Hundreds of flights canceled on Christmas Eve
Almost 1,600 flights in or out of the U.S. have been canceled this Christmas Eve, according to the FlightAware website. An additional 1,669 flights in or out of the country have been delayed, the website said.
It came after a total of 1,400 flights were canceled and 7,200 delayed on Friday as wintry conditions made travel difficult.
It meant holiday travelers faced long lines, often waiting in cold conditions, and unpredictable scheduling.
High winds and snow batter Maine
Forecasters warn of 'life-threatening temperatures'
Dangerous winds “will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers that become stranded, individuals that work outside, livestock and domestic pets,” the National Weather Service warned in a bulletin Saturday.
“In some areas, being outdoors could lead to frostbite in minutes,” the bulletin said, adding that people should prepare for the extreme cold by wrapping up warm and packing safety kits in their vehicles.
“Ensure outdoor animals and livestock have sufficient shelter,” it said.
More than 1.6 million wake up without power
Widespread power outages across several states means that more than 1.6 million customers will wake up without power on Christmas Eve morning, according to poweroutage.us.
North Carolina is the most affected state, with 407,915 without power, followed by 308,265 in Tennessee and 238,502 in Maine.
'Unprecedented' calls to first responders, Erie County executive says
Emergency service workers in Erie County, New York, are experiencing surging numbers of calls and operating under "near impossible conditions," Erie County executive Mark Polocarz tweeted early Saturday.
"Transport to warming centers is nearly impossible in the hardest hit communities right now so even without power and heat sheltering in place may be your best option," he said.
Winter storm death toll rises to 17
Authorities have reported four additional weather-related deaths, bringing the number of people who have died in the winter storm to 17.
The four deaths occurred in Kansas and Nebraska, and were all auto-related, officials have said.
Nebraska State Patrol confirmed one weather-related death. Additional details have not been released. A spokesperson for the agency said it has responded to more than 600 weather-related incidents.
Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday that three fatal crashes occurred Wednesday and were all thought to be weather-related.
In Republic County, a man died after his car was struck by another vehicle that lost control and jackknifed. His car was pushed off the road and into a tree. He was identified as Fred Mikesell, 60, of Scandia, Kansas, officials said.
The driver of the other vehicle was uninjured, according to Highway Patrol.
Zachary Bealer, 33, of Kansas City, Missouri, died after he lost control of his truck and spun across the median of Interstate 70 in Geary County. His truck was then hit by two other vehicles and came to rest 80 feet down an embankment, Highway Patrol said.
No injuries were reported among the people in the two other vehicles.
Grant Lysell-Alkire, 21, of Lindsborg, Kansas, died after the SUV he was a passenger in went into a ditch on Interstate 135 in Saline County and overturned. The 16-year-old driver had a minor injury, according to Highway Patrol.
Deaths have also been reported in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Ohio.
New York governor deploys National Guard to Erie County
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said late Friday she was deploying 54 members of the National Guard to assist residents amid the winter storm and ferocious blizzard that have hit the region.
The Guard members would assist Erie County residents, especially those who have emergency medical appointments and need help traveling, Hochul said in a statement.
They were expected on the ground “in a matter of hours,” the statement said.
“I want to assure New Yorkers that all of our state resources are deployed to help with storm recovery efforts, and we are coordinating closely with local officials across the state. Remember: stay off the roads and take precautions to stay safe in your home.”