A massive winter storm battered the US on Friday with frigid temperatures, high winds and heavy snow, leaving at least nine people dead, knocking out power to over a million customers and wrecking holiday plans from coast to coast.
The storm – expected to intensify throughout Friday as it barrels through the Midwest and East – is making for grim road conditions with poor visibility and ice-covered streets. Coastal flooding is also an issue, particularly along the shorelines of the Northeast.
All modes of travel – planes, trains and automobiles – were being disrupted: There were hundreds of miles of road closures and flight cancellations were growing rapidly. In New York, flooding along the Long Island Rail Road forced part of the Long Beach branch to temporarily shut down.
“Christmas is canceled,” said Mick Saunders, a Buffalo, New York, resident who was two hours into blizzard conditions that are expected to last through Sunday morning. “All family and friends agreed it’s safer this way.”
At least 9 deaths have been reported since Wednesday.
In north-central Kansas, three people were killed in separate car crashes on Wednesday evening; one death was confirmed to be weather-related, and two were believed to be weather-related but need more investigation, according to Kansas Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Candice Breshears.
In Kansas City, one person died after losing control of their Dodge Caravan on icy roads Thursday afternoon, according to the Kansas City Police Department. “The Dodge went down the embankment, over the cement retaining wall and landed upside down, submerged in Brush Creek,” police said in a statement.
In Kentucky, three people died due to the storm, including two in vehicle crashes and the other a “housing insecure” person in Louisville, Gov. Andy Beshear said. The man’s body was found outside with no obvious signs of trauma and an autopsy would determine the cause of death, police said.
And in Ohio, four people have died “as a result of weather-related auto accidents” and several others have been injured, according to Gov. Mike DeWine.
Life threatening cold has pushed all the way to the Gulf Coast and the Mexican border, with below zero wind chills reported as far south as Austin and Atlanta. Many locations in the eastern US are in for their coldest Christmas Eve in decades as the Arctic blast reaches its peak.
More than one million customers in the US are experiencing power outages amid the winter weather and frigid temperatures, according to the website PowerOutage.US. Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania have the most outages.