THE “once in a generation” bomb cyclone event has claimed at least 15 lives as millions of Americans brace for record-breaking temperatures ahead of Christmas.
Temperatures dropped to well below zero in Fort Worth, Texas, and across Kentucky on Friday, with Montana dipping to -45C during the storm.
At least four people have been killed and dozens more injured in a 50-vehicle crash on the Ohio Turnpike, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
The multi-vehicle accident along the turnpike happened early Friday afternoon in Sandusky County.
Three other people died in separate car accidents in northern Kansas Wednesday and a fourth Missouri driver was killed Thursday.
More than two-thirds of the US population was under an extreme weather warning on Friday amid a winter Arctic storm.
A bomb cyclone has brought blizzard conditions to the Great Lakes on the United States-Canada border as atmospheric pressure drops.
The storm has spread from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border.
More than 240 million people were under weather warnings on Friday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
The NWS also warned that temperatures could be so cold that frostbite could develop within five to 10 minutes.
If people stayed out too long, the NWS also warned that people could suffer hypothermia and death.
According to the NWS, more than eight million people remained under blizzard warnings.
As of Saturday, about 60 percent of the US population has received a winter weather advisory or warning.
The massive storm stretches more than 2,000 miles from Texas to Quebec.
President Joe Biden said in a briefing Thursday, “This isn’t like a snowy day when you were a kid, this is serious business.”
According to FlightAware, there were 2,326 flight cancellations and 5,312 delays within, to or from the United States on Saturday as people try to travel home for Christmas.
Thousands of flights were grounded on Friday morning as travelers headed to the airport.
In all, there were almost 6,000 cancellations and over 11,000 delays within, to or from the United States on Friday.
Southwest Airlines canceled 500 of its 4,000 scheduled flights on Thursday and Friday.
The NWS said there will be “dangerously cold wind showers across much of the central and eastern US” this holiday weekend.
The conditions “will pose a potentially life-threatening hazard to travelers who are stranded.”
A total of 1.7 million homes and businesses along the route from Maine to Washington lost power on Saturday, the Associated Press reports.
PJM Interconnection urged residents in 13 states not to use electricity unnecessarily.
The Tennessee Valley Authority gives power to 10 million people in the state and portions of six surrounding states.
They instructed local energy companies to implement planned outages on Saturday to “ensure power system reliability.”
According to the AP, 65 million people in the eastern US could be affected by rolling power outages, a major power grid operator has warned.
This is when energy companies cut power temporarily to balance power supplies in a region.
The governors of New York, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia and Oklahoma have declared states of emergency.
On Saturday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the storm “one of the worst in history.”
MedStar emergency responders found an unresponsive man outside a McDonald’s in Forth Worth.
Officials say the man has been exposed to freezing temperatures in the area.
The unidentified man was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
As of 6 a.m. Friday, according to Fox 4 News, MedStar was responding to 27 calls about cold-related illnesses and injuries.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced three deaths Friday morning related to the polar front that swept through the state.
The deaths were reported in western Kentucky, Louisville and a third undisclosed location.
In Buffalo, New York, forecasters were forecasting a “once in a generation storm” due to heavy lake-effect snow, wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour, whiteouts and the potential for extensive power outages.
Two people died at their homes in Buffalo on Friday when emergency responders were unable to reach them during the storm while they were suffering from medical emergencies.
A Vermont woman died Friday after high winds caused a tree to snap and fall on her home.
In Colorado, a seemingly homeless man died in sub-zero temperatures.
WARNING CARBON MONOXIDE
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission warned of the risk of deaths from carbon monoxide ahead of the winter storm.
The bomb cyclone will hit states in the Midwest and East Coast with heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures and dangerous wind chills that can cause frostbite within minutes.
The CPSC warned the conditions could lead to power outages and increase the use of portable generators.
“Consumers need to be extra cautious when storms knock out power,” the Safety Commission said.
“Portable generators carry a risk of [carbon monoxide] an intoxication that can be fatal in minutes.”
Carbon monoxide, also known as “CO,” is an “invisible killer” due to its colorless and odorless nature, the CPSC explained.
Exposed individuals may become unconscious before symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, weakness, and sometimes death appear.
About 100 million Americans have been placed under winter warnings and wind chill warnings that span 37 states, the National Weather Service said.
Areas in the Midwest and Plains should brace for the coldest Christmas in 40 years after officials predicted the Arctic blast will continue throughout the weekend.
Places like Des Moines, Iowa feel like minus 37 degrees, making it possible to get frostbite in less than five minutes.
Freezing rain, ice pellets and snow began falling in the Pacific Northwest on Thursday.
50 mph gusts of wind swept across the Portland, Oregon area, crashing trees onto homes.
In Montana, temperatures dropped as low as 50 below in Elk Park, a mountain pass on the Continental Divide.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine warned of a “unique and dangerous” Thursday night flash freeze situation across the state.
Denver was its coldest in 32 years on Thursday when the temperature dropped to minus 24F.
A coastal flood warning was in effect in Charleston, South Carolina Thursday.
Drifts of more than 10 feet have been observed on the roads in some areas.
The storm is expected to continue into next week but will mean mostly low temperatures aside from flooding, rain and other hazards in some local areas.