Gov. Kathy Hochul described the snowstorm hitting western New York state as “life-threatening” and “one of the worst in history.”
The heavy snow is part of a huge winter storm that’s also creating high winds, frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills in much of the U.S. The storm has been blamed for at least 12 deaths, including two in a Buffalo suburb after emergency crews couldn’t get to their homes when they suffered medical emergencies. It has left about 1.7 million people without power.
Hochul said in a late Saturday morning briefing that the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is closed through Monday morning, and some roads are closed through Christmas Day.
Almost every fire truck in Buffalo, she said, was stranded and stuck in snow as of Saturday morning.
“No matter how many emergency vehicles we have, they cannot get through the conditions as we speak,” she said.
COCOA BEACH, Fla. — For the surfing Santas off Florida’s central coast, the Atlantic Ocean was going to feel more like the North Pole than the Sunshine State.
Temperatures on Saturday morning plunged to around freezing, while freeze warnings were in place for at least half of the state.
Parts of the Florida Panhandle had wind chills that dipped into the single digits on Saturday morning, and interior parts of central Florida had temperatures plunging as low as 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.7 Celsius).
“It’s a frigid start to your #ChristmasEve across the area,” the National Weather Service in Tallahassee tweeted.
Despite the frigid temperature, the 14th annual Christmas Eve Surfing Santas festival was being held Saturday morning at Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast.
The event has grown from 10 surfers dressed in Santa costumes when it started in 2009 to 600 participants on surfboards, boogie boards and paddle boards in years past. In anticipation of the frigid weather, a beachside restaurant planned to distribute free hot cocoa to the expected thousands of spectators, according to organizers.
NASHVILLE — Extreme cold and power outages in the region delayed the kickoff of the Houston Texans’ visit to the Tennessee Titans by an hour after the Nashville mayor asked the hometown team to postpone the game.
The Titans issued a statement saying the decision was made with the National Football League, the local Office of Emergency Management, the Nashville Electric Service and the mayor’s office out of “an abundance of caution” so that the game would not harm the community.
The team also said it is working to cut all nonessential power around Nissan Stadium even with gates open for fans.
“At all times, the operation of the game remained secondary to the well-being of our community and we can’t thank the OEM and NES enough for their dedication to the safety of our neighbors.”
The temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8.3 Celsius) but felt like 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.6 Celsius) about 75 minutes before the scheduled kickoff.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper wrote on social media asking everyone, especially nonessential businesses, to cut back their power usage, with the Tennessee Valley Authority using rolling blackouts to protect the power grid.
MILWAUKEE — A company that provides natural gas throughout Wisconsin asked customers to drop their thermostats to 60 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit overnight Friday because a pipeline equipment failure temporarily cut the gas coming from one of its suppliers by 30%.
Milwaukee-based We Energies said the problem was resolved Saturday morning. It told customers that lowering their thermostats to conserve gas would head off a “significant” outage and that it couldn’t get gas from other pipelines Friday because of the frigid weather caused by the winter storm across much of the U.S.
But the environmental group Citizen Action of Wisconsin said Saturday that the utility could have lessened natural gas use over time before the storm by allowing customers, especially poor ones, easy financing for weatherizing their homes or installing solar panels, and by supporting community solar power in Milwaukee.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The massive, wild winter storm that has gripped much of the U.S. has been blamed for deaths in Vermont, New York, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas.
Multiple highways were closed and crashes claimed at least eight lives, officials said. Four people died in a massive pileup involving some 50 vehicles on the Ohio Turnpike. A Kansas City, Missouri, driver was killed Thursday after skidding into a creek, and three others died Wednesday in separate crashes on icy northern Kansas roads.