A weather warning or advisory is in effect for more than 200 million people or roughly 60% of the US population, and the bitter cold is predicted to last through the Christmas holiday.
The blizzard started on Wednesday, and the Kansas Highway Patrol said that three people died in separate car accidents as a result of drivers losing control of their vehicles on icy roadways. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in inland states have plummeted, with Des Moines, Iowa, feeling like it is -38C (-37F) and Montana reaching -45.6C (-50F), making frostbite likely in less than five minutes.
The Great Lakes region, which includes the lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, is still experiencing heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions, with up to 4 feet of snow forecast on the eastern side of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
At least 1.4 million households and businesses were without electricity on Friday morning as a result of strong winds snapping trees and bringing down power lines, though by Friday evening this figure had decreased to roughly 550,000.
There is a scramble to open adequate emergency shelters for individuals who are homeless or have no power at home after more than 5,000 flights into, within, and out of the US were cancelled on Friday.
US President Joe Biden said, “This is not like a snow day when you were a kid – this is serious stuff.”
Canada is also dealing with a severe storm that has caused thousands of homes to lose power and caused hundreds of flights to be rescheduled or cancelled. A major roadway near London, Ontario, has been closed off due to reports of up to 100 automobiles involved in various collisions. This information was provided by Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Kerry Schmidt.