The “blizzard of the century” kills nearly 50 in the United States

Europe 1 with AFP
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1:23 p.m., December 27, 2022

The severe winter storm hitting the United States for several days has caused the death of at least 49 people in the country, including 27 in a single county in New York State, and this “blizzard of the century” is far from over, authorities warned on Monday. “It’s far too early to say it’s over,” warned New York Governor Kathy Hochul, adding that up to 30 cm of snow was still expected to fall. “It’s clearly the blizzard of the century,” she added during a press conference from the city of Buffalo, where she was born.

Even if the intensity of the storm is no longer that of recent days, it is “still dangerous to be outside”, she warned. Western New York, accustomed to cold and storms, was buried over the Christmas weekend under meters of snow, suffering from polar temperatures since last week.

Repeated road accidents

The death toll in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, was already 13 as of Sunday evening, but local services have since confirmed the deaths of 14 more people, bringing the total death toll from the blizzard to 27, it said on Monday. Mark Poloncarz, responsible for this county. Some people have been found dead in their cars or outside, and others have died of cardiac arrest while trying to clear snow, while temperatures are still freezing, he said.

He said he expected more victims to be found gradually. The total of deaths confirmed by authorities across nine US states is at least 49 dead. In Ohio, road accidents linked to these bad weather killed nine people, the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed to AFP.

“My heart is with those who have lost a loved one,” US President Joe Biden tweeted on Monday, indicating that he spoke on the phone with the governor, and promising to provide the necessary federal resources. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said snow cover in some western New York cities was “up to three feet deep overnight.”

Later Monday, she spoke with President Biden who offered “the full force of the federal government” to support New York State. He said together with First Lady Jill Biden they were praying for those who lost loved ones in the storm, according to a statement from the White House. According to the same source, Joe Biden also approved the declaration of a state of emergency in New York State.

A storm of rare intensity

Since Wednesday evening, the United States has been hit by this storm of rare intensity, whose icy winds have caused heavy snowfall, especially in the Great Lakes region. Tens of millions of Americans saw their Christmas weekend turned upside down by massive power outages, impassable roads and thousands of canceled flights, causing chaos at airports.

On Monday, the number of canceled flights in the United States rose to around 3,800 from 3,500 previously announced, according to the monitoring site Flightaware.com. Conditions are expected to improve only gradually as the week progresses.

The weather “will continue to cause hazardous travel conditions locally for the next two days,” the US Weather Service (NWS) said in its latest national bulletin. “Most of the eastern United States will remain in freezing conditions through the day Monday, before a more moderate trend sets in from Tuesday,” he added.

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