Nine people have died in the United States as the country grapples with a winter storm that saw temperatures plummet to -45C (-49F).
More than 200 million people – around 60% of the US population – are on some form of weather warning or advisory, with the brutal cold expected to continue through the Christmas weekend.
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The nine weather-related fatalities to date:
• Two deaths following car accidents in Kentucky
• A homeless man has died in the city of Louisville
• Three crashes in Oklahoma killed three people – two of the crashes happened as winds blew blowing snow, while details of the third crash were not yet available
• The driver of a car in Missouri died after losing control on an icy road, driving down an embankment, crashing over a cement wall and landing upside down in a stream
• A person died in Wisconsin after a pickup truck slammed into the back of another vehicle before veering off the road and hitting a tractor-trailer parked on the hard shoulder
• A man was found dead on Friday morning in Memphis and, while there are no details, authorities said it appears the death was weather-related
The Kansas Highway Patrol also said three people were killed in separate vehicle collisions early in the storm on Wednesday as drivers lost control of their vehicles on icy roads.
Temperatures in inland states have dropped: -45.6°C (-50°F) in Montana and Des Moines in Iowa feeling like -38°C (-37°F), allowing for frostbite in less than five minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions continue around parts of the Great Lakes region – which covers lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – with up to 4 feet of snow expected on the eastern shore of the lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Gusty winds snapped trees and destroyed power lines, with at least 1.4 million homes and businesses without power Friday morning.
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According to the poweroutage.us website, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina were the hardest hit, followed by Tennessee, New York, Maryland and Connecticut.
More than 5,000 flights to, within and from the United States were canceled on Friday, and there is a rush to open enough emergency shelters for those who are homeless or do not have electricity at home.
Urgent efforts are also being made to provide firewood to some Native American tribes that live remotely, such as members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
Tribal Chairman Frank Star Comes Out described the efforts as “one hell of a fight so far.”
US President Joe Biden said: “It’s not like a snowy day when you were a kid – it’s serious business.”
Canada is also experiencing a major storm, which has seen hundreds of flights delayed or canceled and hundreds of thousands of properties without power.
Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said police received reports of up to 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions that closed a major highway near London, Ont.