A powerful winter storm claims at least 15 lives across the US as temperatures plunge, winds howl and power lines fall



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More than 1.6 million homes and businesses across the country were without power on Christmas Eve morning, thanks to an Arctic blast and a winter storm that brought down power lines with damaging winds and heavy snow and dangerously low temperatures, killing at least 15 people.

As bone-chilling air continues to sweep across the US this holiday weekend, the relentless storm is pummeling the Midwest and parts of the East with heavy snow, blizzards and even flooding along the Northeast coast. No peace is expected until after Christmas Day.

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At least 15 people have died in four states since Wednesday amid dangerous and life-threatening conditions across much of the country this week.

Three people have died in weather-related crashes in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol told CNN on Friday.

One person has died in Kansas City, Missouri, after his car slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek, Kansas City Police Department first responders said.

Four people were killed and others injured in car crashes in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one death from the storm on Friday. The Wisconsin State Patrol reported one fatal crash Thursday due to winter weather.

Two people died Friday night in Erie County, New York, in separate incidents when emergency medical personnel could not get to their homes in time to provide emergency treatment, county executive Mark Poloncarz said during a news conference Saturday morning.

Kentucky reported three deaths from the storm: two in car crashes and another person who was sheltered in Louisville, Gov. Andy Beshear said. The man’s body was found outside with no obvious signs of trauma – an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death, police said.

Buildings covered in snow are seen in below-freezing temperatures in Louisville, Kentucky, on Dec. 23.

For days, forecasters and officials have been sounding the alarm over the grim conditions the storm promised, while urging drivers to avoid icy, snowy roads and other travelers to alter their holiday plans to ensure optimal safety.

“Remember that your loved ones care more about you being alive and next Christmas than whether you can cook them,” Beshear told CNN on Friday.

“People need to stay off the roads. … Being together is more important than ever, but being safe is even more important than that,” Beshear added.

The dire warning comes as the storm continues to churn with blizzards from the Great Lakes and the Inland Northeast, bringing the dual threat of heavy snow and gusty winds.

This week, hundreds of drivers in several states, including New York, South Dakota and Minnesota, were stranded and needed rescue. Some states have closed major highways to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel. In addition, more than 5,000 flights were canceled and more than 10,000 were delayed on Friday.

Even worse, even if the snowfall stops or slows, winds are likely to approach or exceed 60 mph, causing damage and more power outages.

“If you lose power, it’s going to be dangerously cold,” New York City Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, adding that people should seek warming shelters, which some counties are providing. “Please don’t think you can endure this cold night without warmth. You probably won’t.”

According to PowerOutage.us, at 7:50 a.m. ET, more than 1.6 million homes and businesses were without power, meaning millions of residents. likely no adequate heating or hot water as extremely cold temperatures remain on saturday.

Here’s what else you can expect this Christmas Eve:

• Cold comes to many: More than 175 million people are under cold warnings for much of the central and eastern United States. “Life-threateningly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for stranded travelers,” the National Weather Service said.

• Record temperature in the south: Atlanta and Tallahassee, Florida, are forecast to have their coldest high temperatures ever recorded on Dec. 24, according to the weather service.

• Brutal cold elsewhere: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will also experience the coldest Christmas Eve on record on Saturday. Washington, D.C., could have its second coldest Christmas Eve on Christmas Eve, the first being in 1989. The coldest Christmas Eve since 1906 is expected in New York. Temperatures in Chicago are expected to climb back above freezing, but it will still experience its coldest Christmas Eve since. 1983.

The threat of flooding remains: The risk of both coastal and inland flooding is forecast for the Northeast as heavy rain falls on top of melting snow. Moderate to isolated major coastal flooding is possible due to strong onshore winds.

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