Winter storm: Death toll rises to at least 48 nationwide

A dangerous winter storm continued to wreak havoc across much of the U.S. on Sunday, bringing record-low temperatures and bringing several major cities to a halt.

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Update 9:57 a.m. EST Dec. 26: Officials in Buffalo said Monday that the death toll from the pre-Christmas blizzard that battered the area has risen to 27, The Associated Press reported. The death toll stands at 48 nationwide, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday.

-Lauren Silver, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 6:40 p.m. EST Dec. 25: At least 34 people have died across the United States, according to The Associated Press. More deaths are expected as more people are getting trapped inside the houses with snow drifts and power outages that have knocked out power to tens of thousands of houses and businesses.

According to the AP, about 60% of the U.S. population has faced some kind of winter weather advisory or warning. The National Weather Service said that temperatures have plummeted below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled and more cancellations are expected, according to the AP.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 3:23 p.m. EST Dec. 25: At least 28 people have died as a result of the deep freeze overnight and into Christmas morning, The Associated Press reported.

The storm is expected to diminish in severity as the weekend ends, according to the National Weather Service.

“Blustery west to northwesterly winds behind this expansive system will continue to direct arctic air from central Canada down into much of the eastern two-thirds of the country, with only slow moderation of temperatures through the rest of the weekend into Monday,” the agency said.

Update 11:23 a.m. EST Dec. 25: At least 24 people have died as a result of the deep freeze overnight and into Christmas morning, The Associated Press reported. The number of fatalities rose after Erie County County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that the death toll in the Buffalo, New York, area rose to seven overall after four more fatalities were confirmed overnight, WGRZ-TV reported.

Original report: In Buffalo, New York, a city accustomed to snow, hundreds of people were stranded in their cars and others were stuck in homes covered by 6-foot drifts, The New York Times reported.

“This may turn out to be the worst storm in our community’s history, surpassing the famed Blizzard of ‘77 for its ferocity,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters on Saturday.

“New Yorkers are used to winter storms, but this one packed a punch and caused complete whiteout conditions in Western New York however, additional help is on the way,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Washington, D.C., endured the coldest Christmas Eve on record, with Saturday’s high of 22 degrees one degree lower than the previous mark of 23 set in 1983, according to The Washington Post.

According to the National Weather Service, New York City experienced record lows, including a 15-degree reading at Central Park, CNN reported. That marked the second-coldest Dec. 24 in the city in at least 150 years, the National Weather Service reported.

Massive airport delays and cancellations at Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, the nation’s busiest airport, caused some travelers to wait for flights up to the last minute on Christmas Eve, WSB-TV reported.

Americans in dozens of states were digging out from the powerful, four-day “bomb cyclone” system that knocked out power to more than 1.75 million customers at its peak, the Times reported.

Record lows were recorded on Christmas Eve in Baltimore, where the mercury fell to 8 degrees; and in Bluefield, West Virginia, which had a low of minus 9 degrees, according to the newspaper.

In Dallas, residents woke up to Christmas morning temperatures that rose from the upper teens to mid-20s, The Dallas Morning News reported. Unlike other parts of the country, conditions in North Texas were dry.

In Memphis, Tennessee, high temperatures Sunday were forecast to be at 31 degrees; last year’s high was 77, according to WHBQ-TV.

In Pittsburgh, thousands of people were without power and motorists were facing icy, windy conditions, WPXI-TV reported.

Across the U.S., 259,785 homes and businesses in the U.S. had no electricity service as of 8 a.m. EST Sunday, according to PowerOutage, a website that tracks utility outages. Maine (91,286) and New York (36,556) led the nation with customers in the dark.

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