Winter storm tracker: New York death toll rises as thousands remain without power

Governor says this 'will go down in history as Buffalo's most devastating storm'

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed that at least 12 people in the state have died as a result of a frigid winter storm that has covered much of the US, leaving tens of thousands without power and thousands of flights cancelled.

At least 34 people across the country have died as a result of the storm — either through collisions, exposure to freezing conditions or other causes, the Associated Press reported.

Western New York was expected to continue experiencing snowfall until 4am on Monday, the National Weather Service said.

“It took an enormous amount of time to get here; the city is still under siege,” Ms Hochul said on Sunday, during a briefing in Erie County.

“My own home has been without power for a couple of days and flooding with broken pipes, frozen pipes. So, there's a lot of bad things going on right here.”

Ms Hochul earlier said the freezing event will “go down in history as Buffalo's most devastating storm”.

Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said a driving ban was in effect for non-emergency vehicles.

“Crews are out in the south towns now as snow is falling at 3 inches [7.62cm] per hour in some areas. This is why we need everyone to stay off the roads,” Mr Poloncarz said.

More than 26,000 customers in Erie County were left without power on Christmas Day, according to poweroutage.us.

“This is not the Christmas any of us hoped for nor expected, but try to have as merry a Christmas as possible today.

“Remember the holiday spirit and why we're a community of good neighbours.”

Ms Hochul said the state has stationed 200 National Guard members in the area to conduct wellness checks, deliver food and relieve first responders.

Ms Hochul told reporters that the White House would support the state's request to declare a federal disaster.

She discouraged President Joe Biden from visiting the state due to the conditions, but noted his administration's support has been “extraordinary”.

More than 2,100 flights across the country were cancelled as of Sunday afternoon, according to flight tracker FlightAware, compounding the travel chaos faced by travellers throughout the week.

About 6,000 flights were cancelled on Christmas Eve.

The National Weather Service said Buffalo Niagara International Airport accumulated 109cm of snow on Sunday morning.

Severe wind chills were experienced throughout the US as well, with Madison, Wisconsin, facing temperatures as low as minus 47ºC.

And city officials in the southern city of Jackson, Mississippi, told residents they must boil drinking water until further notice because of lines bursting in the sub-zero conditions.

Officials in Kentucky had also confirmed at least three storm-related deaths.

The storm was the product of a weather storm caused by cold temperatures from the Northern Great Plains to the US-Mexico border last week.

About 60 per cent of the US — ranging from the Great Lakes down to the southern border — was under some winter weather advisory, the NWS said.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: December 26, 2022, 4:46 AM
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