People freeze to death in their cars, and there is sometimes no way for rescue workers to get through: the situation is particularly dramatic in the eastern United States due to winter storm “Elliot”. At least 47 people died in the winter storm. A governor speaks of a “crisis of epic proportions”.

“This is not the Christmas we wished for”: The relentless winter storm swept across the eastern United States on Christmas weekend with heavy snowfalls and icy winds. At least 47 people died as a result of the storm. More than 200,000 people on the east coast were without power on Christmas morning. The situation in Buffalo, New York State, developed dramatically. The US weather service continued to expect severe frost for Monday, before more moderate weather is expected to set in on Tuesday.

At least 47 people were killed in nine states, including at least 25 in Erie County in western New York State. The city of Buffalo in the county bordering Canada was cut off from the outside world, and emergency services were unable to reach particularly hard-hit areas. The state governor, Kathy Hochul, spoke of a “crisis of epic proportions”. It was “like in a war zone”. Front doors disappeared behind snow drifts up to three meters high, and the situation became life-threatening due to power failures in freezing temperatures.

Hochul dispatched approximately 200 National Guard members to the Buffalo area to assist emergency services. “It’s extreme, it’s dangerous and deadly,” she told CNN. Even National Guard units got stuck in the snow and needed help. “I’ve seen every major winter storm in the past 60 years,” Hochul said. “This is the worst.” The “blizzard of ’22” will be talked about for generations to come.

In Erie County, some people froze to death in their cars and others were found on the road in snowdrifts, official Mark Poloncarz said. “This is not the Christmas we wanted.” Poloncarz spoke of “probably the worst storm in our lives and in the history of the city”. Buffalo International Airport is scheduled to remain closed until Tuesday, and the entire county was banned from driving on Monday. Due to frozen substations, some residents won’t be able to count on electricity again until Tuesday. A frozen substation is said to have been buried under five meters of snow, a government official said.

The extreme weather conditions saw temperatures plummet below freezing in 48 states over the weekend, thousands of flights were canceled and residents were stranded in their homes covered in ice and snow.

The traffic departments of several states advised motorists to stay at home – and that at the most popular travel time of the year. According to the website Flightaware, the winter storm led to numerous flight cancellations. Almost 6,000 US flights were canceled on Friday, around 3,500 flights on Saturday and almost 3,000 flights on Sunday. At least 1,700 more US flights were canceled on Monday.

Scores of travelers were stuck at airports for Christmas, including in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York. Some of the busiest roads in the United States, including Interstate 70, had to be temporarily closed due to black ice and heavy snowfall.

According to the website Power Outage, almost 1.7 million people across the country were briefly without power on Saturday, and around 50,000 customers on the US east coast were still affected by power outages on Monday morning.

Canada also shivered under the arctic winter storm. Hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario and Quebec were without electricity. Numerous flights were canceled and all trains between Toronto and Ottawa were canceled due to a train derailment. Four people died and 53 others were injured when a bus overturned on an icy road in the Canadian province of British Columbia on Saturday.