A vast chaos.

Nearly 1.5 million American homes were without electricity on Friday due to a winter storm of rare intensity, which caused chaos in transport on the eve of Christmas, with thousands of flights canceled and roads sometimes become impassable.

This Friday morning, more than 240 million people were affected by alerts or calls for caution in the United States, wrote the American weather service (NWS), which described the storm as “historic”.

This represents more than 70% of the population.

Impressive consequences

In much of the country, conditions had become very dangerous for travel.

But millions of Americans flooded the roads and airports for the holiday season.

In New York State, a travel ban has been issued in Erie County.

"We stay at home (...) I can't see on the other side of the street" because of the snow, Jennifer Orlando, affected by this ban in the city of Hamburg, told AFP.

Because of the accident of a vehicle against a power line, she found herself without power for about four hours, she said.

Nearly 1.5 million homes were without electricity this Friday at midday, notably in North Carolina, Maine and Virginia, according to the specialized site Poweroutage.us.

The storm was particularly impressive in its magnitude, stretching from the Canadian border in the north to the Mexican border in the south.

States of emergency declared in several states

Temperatures were negative as far as the Texas coast, even though many migrants from Mexico found themselves there in difficult conditions.

In El Paso, shelters have been opened to allow them to protect themselves from the risk of hypothermia.

But "many people don't want to get on the buses to go to the shelters for fear of being deported," Rosa Falcon, a 56-year-old volunteer, told AFP.

Some of them had to dismantle their tents by order of the authorities, and “simply sleep wrapped in blankets”, she said sorry.

This Friday afternoon, the specialized site Flightaware had more than 4,500 canceled flights in the United States, the airports most affected being those of Seattle, New York, Chicago or Detroit.

Several states have declared states of emergency, including New York, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina.

"People should stay home, not venture out on the roads," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told CNN on Friday morning.

“Your family wants to see you home for Christmas, but most of all they want to see you alive.


Deaths in Kentucky

Due to snow and strong winds, "blizzard conditions can develop very quickly," he said, adding that the National Guard had been deployed in the state.

He confirmed that three people had died on Kentucky roads.

In Oklahoma, at least two people died on the road, according to the agency in charge of emergency management in that state.

“We are seeing incredibly strong, dangerous and potentially deadly winds,” as well as “blinding snowstorms,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday.

“The roads are going to be like ice rinks”, and this until the weekend, she warned.

Heavy snowfall was observed in the north of the country, particularly in the Great Lakes region.

This storm is caused by a powerful conflict between two air masses: one very cold from the Arctic and the other tropical from the Gulf of Mexico.

What makes the current situation extraordinary is that the atmospheric pressure has dropped very quickly, in less than 24 hours.

Homeless people in danger

In New York, while the temperature was still around 10°C this Friday morning, it was expected to drop to -10°C in the evening.

In Chicago, it was Friday around -20 ° C.

"There are a lot of people living outside right now, in these conditions," said Burke Patten, of the organization Night Ministry, which helps homeless people.

According to him, the number of beds made available by the city of Chicago is not enough to house everyone.

For several days, the organization has distributed coats, gloves, and sleeping bags.

Canada too was preparing to face the event.

This Friday, extreme cold, storm and even blizzard alerts were issued for a large majority of Canadian territory, according to Environment Canada.


United States: A historic cold snap as Christmas approaches


United States: A "cyclonic bomb" will drop temperatures to -55° C for Christmas

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