In the USA, the effects of arctic storm "Elliott" are overshadowing this year's Christmas celebrations. So far, at least 28 people in eleven states have died in connection with extreme cold, freezing winds and heavy snowfall, as reported by the NBC broadcaster, citing official information.
At least three people were killed in Erie County, New York, on Saturday, county official Marc Poloncarz confirmed on Twitter. The New York Times said the emergency services did not arrive on time for two of them. The reason for this was the heavy snowfall. It was said that not even snow plows could have cleared the streets.
More than 170,000 households without electricity
According to Poloncarz, the emergency services in Erie County were at times overwhelmed. He called for calling 911 only in the "most critical, life-threatening cases" to keep the lines clear. On Saturday, rescue workers helped with the birth of a child over the phone, wrote the New York Times. As night fell, people were still being rescued from their cars on Christmas Eve, it said. Some of them had been trapped there since Friday.
According to the website PowerOutage, more than 170,000 households were without electricity in the early morning. In New York City, electric utilities called on people to save energy. Heaters should be turned on as little as possible, devices such as dishwashers or tumble dryers should not be used if possible, according to a statement from the operator Con Edison. These measures will help ensure an adequate supply of natural gas for the remainder of the weekend.
Expect heavy snowfall today as well
The center of the storm has shifted north and is now over eastern Canada, the US weather service wrote on Twitter. The region around the Great Lakes ("Great Lakes") in the north-east of the USA remains badly affected. Heavy snowfall is also to be expected there today, which in combination with strong gusts of wind could lead to snowstorm-like conditions locally, it said.
The coldest temperature was measured on Sunday night at minus 33.9 degrees Celsius in the state of North Dakota west of the Great Lakes, according to the weather service. Travelers were once again called upon to exercise extreme caution and were warned of so-called whiteout conditions, i.e. severely restricted visibility and a lack of orientation through the snow.
The winter storm has kept the USA in suspense since the day before Christmas. More than 200 million people had received severe weather warnings. Initially, the north and mid-west of the country were particularly affected. But there were also warnings of extreme frost in states in the south of the country. Several states, including New York, have declared a state of emergency.