The death toll from Storm Elliot, which has caused freezing temperatures in large areas of the Midwest and eastern United States, now rises to at least 22, after seven states in the North American country have confirmed deaths during the last hours. According to local media, such as Angeles Times, many of these people perished in traffic accidents or from frostbite trapped in their vehicles during the blizzard.
According to the information collected by the American television network CNN, eight people have died in Ohio -four of them in a chain crash that affected 50 cars-, three in Kansas, New York and Kentucky, two in Colorado and one in Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, respectively. The storm left more than 315,000 homes and businesses without electricity on Saturday, on Christmas Day Eve. Strong winds, sometimes covered in ice and snow, downed numerous power lines. In the days leading up to the weekend, the storm had knocked out power to more than 1.7 million homes in the US and Canada. The US media have reported that this Christmas is being the coldest since temperatures were recorded in the United States.
Elliot’s passage left thousands of people trying to reunite with their families without Christmas Eve, since some 4,900 flights were canceled this Saturday, according to data from the Flight Aware portal. These are in addition to the nearly 6,000 cancellations that occurred on Thursday, causing chaos and despair at several airports in the United States. For this Sunday, the cancellation of another 800 has been confirmed.
The storm is causing temperatures below zero since Thursday from Canada to Texas, as well as heavy snowfall, strong winds and rain in almost the entire territory. More than 240 million Americans, 70% of the country’s population, have been under a severe weather alert since that day, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The last part of this body, from 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, in Spanish peninsular time, indicated that 3.9 million people remained under alert for a snow storm, in the midwest, northeast and northwest of the country.
The country has recorded lows of -48° Celsius in places like the northern Rocky Mountains, according to the NWS. The agency has described the storm as “once in a generation” and has forecast a “major anomalous storm” that will last through the Christmas weekend, with snow, strong winds and abnormally “dangerous” low temperatures.
The NWS described as historic “the dangerous mass of unprecedented cold air” by an Arctic front that crossed the northwestern strip of the United States during Friday night, what is known as a polar vortex: a large mass of rotating cold air It usually circles the Arctic, but occasionally drifts south of the pole. Also Canada, accustomed to the snow and low temperatures of the season, faces extreme cold that is hitting the western provinces and that will spread to the east of the country in the coming hours.
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shelters for migrants
The weather phenomenon stretches from Nevada, part of Utah, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming, to the northern Midwest, the Great Lakes, and the central and northern Appalachians. Zero visibility, ice and blizzards had already been reported Saturday to have killed at least seven people in road accidents in Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma, while floodwaters forced their way across riverside communities in the central and eastern parts of the country. . Wheeling has been prohibited in some counties in upstate New York, reports from New York, María Antonia Sánchez-Vallejo. “People should stay home, not venture out on the roads,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear advised in a statement to CNN.
In El Paso (Texas), shelters were set up so that migrants arriving from Mexico could take refuge from the freezing temperatures, which reached almost -10º during midnight on Friday. The fear of suffering hypothermia, however, was less than the fear of immigration authorities and for this reason many refused to enter a center and opted to sleep in the open “wrapped in blankets,” a volunteer explained to Agence France Presse.
President Joe Biden warned Americans on Thursday to take the storm “extremely seriously” and to follow the recommendations of the authorities. “This is really a very serious weather alert. And it goes from Oklahoma to Wyoming, and from Wyoming to Maine. And there are real consequences, so I encourage everyone to follow the warnings of local authorities,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “This is not like the snowfall we used to see when we were little, it is very serious.”
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