Some Americans have resorted to burning clothes to keep warm, it’s been reported, after a monster winter storm hit the continent.
At least 19 people across the US have been killed — including four in a 50-car pileup — as a “bomb cyclone” wreaked havoc with snow, subzero temperatures and high winds, reported the New York Post.
CNN has stated that both Atlanta and Philadelphia are likely to be in the midst of their coldest Christmas Eves ever. New York City saw temperatures plummet to -14C overnight with the “feels like” temperature sinking further to -24C. The city will only reach -8C on Christmas Eve, not even getting above freezing.
Around 250 million Americans, three quarters of the country, are in the grip of the winter weather storm which also extends into Canada.
Freezing conditions have been recorded from Texas, in America’s south, to Quebec, across the border.
Elk Park, in Montana, saw the mercury fall to -45C.
19 killed in severe conditions
Three people died in weather-related crashes in Oklahoma, while another three were killed on icy roads in Kentucky, Fox Weather reported.
Another person was killed after their vehicle overturned in Missouri, and a person in Texas died after prolonged exposure to the frigid temperatures.
In Ohio, at least four people were killed and several others were injured in a massive, 50-car pileup Friday amid treacherous “white-out conditions,” the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OHSP) said.
The major pileup began forming after a second crash around 12:30pm, officials said.
“Our sympathy goes to those families who have lost a loved one during this severe weather situation in Ohio,” state Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement.
“The road conditions continue to be very dangerous across the state, with white outs and extremely cold temperatures continuing. Please continue to remain home if at all possible and be vigilant with these extremely dangerous road conditions”.
Burning clothes to keep warm
In South Dakota there are reports of Indigenous Americans burning clothing to stay warm.
The Darsha Dodge Rapid City Journal said Native American tribal leaders in the state were appealing after they were hit by huge dumpings of snow.
The reservation has seen snow drift 3.6 metres high.
“We’re in a really extreme emergency down here,” said Anna Halverson of the Pass Creek Tribal Council.
“We have drifts as high as some houses that stretch 60, 70 yards (64 metres) at a time.”
People on the reservation usually use wood stoves or propane tanks to keep warm, said Ms Halverson, but some had run out of supplies.
“We’re not able to get them with deliveries because of the roads. A lot of our members across the reservation have no propane, because the propane companies can’t reach their tanks to fill,” she said.
“I’ve seen across the reservation some members were burning clothes in their wood stove because they couldn’t get access to wood.”
Across the US around 1.4 million people are without power while in Canada about 400,000 people in Ontario and Quebec have no electricity.
On Saturday more than 1800 flights were cancelled across the US due to the storm.
Originally published as Fierce winter storm in US and Canada kills at least 19 people as temperatures drop to 45 below