More than 50 people are dead nationwide following extreme winter weather and low temperatures across the United States.
The deaths occurred in over a dozen states, with at least 17 reported in New York alone after a massive snowstorm in Buffalo.
“We do believe based on reports we’re getting from the field we are going to get a number — hopefully not a significant number — but a number of additionally confirmed deaths in the next six hours because of bodies that have been found but have not yet been transported to hospitals for identification and confirmation of death,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said during a Sunday press conference.
The number of deaths in Buffalo “is expected to rise,” Mayor Byron Brown also said during a Sunday press briefing. About 15,000 homes in Erie County are without power in outages that could last until Tuesday, according to the Sunday report.
Some of the deaths have occurred from individuals trapped in vehicles, while at least one death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning after snow covered an outside furnace, causing the fumes to build up in the home.
“We continue to work around the clock with local leaders to respond to this historic storm and are in contact with the White House to secure critical federal assistance to help our communities recover,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in an update from her office about the storm. “I encourage everyone to continue to look after one another, stay off the roads and take precautions to stay safe in your home.”
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray also warned residents to take precautions during the severe weather.
“Stay home and adhere to local travel bans that are in place. This is for your own safety, and to facilitate operations of utility crews, plow trucks and emergency responders. Our State agency teams have been working hand in glove with each other and our local partners to help New Yorkers get through this historic storm,” Bray said in the update.
Hochul previously declared a statewide State of Emergency on Thursday ahead of the storm. The governor also deployed 200 members of the state’s National Guard to assist those facing emergencies.
NBC News reported that deaths occurred in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin since a “bomb cyclone” of snow and winter winds struck across the nation just ahead of Christmas weekend.
The extreme winter weather has also led to more than 12,000 flight cancellations across the U.S. At least 1,500 flights were canceled by early Monday. FlightAware, a flight tracking website, noted an additional 1,875 delays.
Snow and frigid temperatures are expected across the northeastern parts of the nation through Tuesday, with increased concerns related to travel and safety that could occur following power outages.