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Powerful winter storm kills at least 13 in US as temperatures drop, winds howl and power lines fall

Powerful winter storm kills at least 13 in US as temperatures drop, winds howl and power lines fall

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Hundreds of thousands of Americans woke up in the dark amid unlit trees on Christmas Eve, after damaging winds and heavy snow from winter storm downed power lines and endangered motorists across the country, killing at least 13 people along the way.

As freezing temperatures continue to grip the US this holiday weekend, the relentless storm is pummeling the Midwest and parts of the East with heavy snow, blizzards and even flooding along the Northeast coast. No shutdown is looming until after Christmas.

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At least 13 people have died since Wednesday in four states, a result of how dangerous and life-threatening conditions have been this week across much of the country.

Three people have died in weather-related crashes in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol told CNN on Friday.

In Kansas City, Missouri, one person died after his car slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek, Kansas City police said first.

Four people were killed in car crashes in Ohio, where others were also injured, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed one storm-related death Friday.

The Wisconsin State Patrol reported one fatal crash Thursday due to the wintry weather.

Kentucky reported three deaths caused by the storm: two in car crashes and another was a person who was not accommodated in Louisville, Gov. Andy Bescher said. The man’s body was found outside with no visible signs of trauma — an autopsy is needed to determine the cause of death, police said.

For days, forecasters and officials have sounded the alarm about the grim conditions the storm promises to bring, while imploring drivers to stay off icy, snow-covered roads and other travelers to alter their vacation plans for optimal safety.

“Remember, your loved ones care more about you being alive this next Christmas than whether you can make it through this one,” Beshear told CNN on Friday.

“People should stay off the roads. … Being together is more important than ever, but staying safe is even more important than that,” Bescher added.

The ominous warning comes as the storm continues to roll in with blizzards from the Great Lakes and inland northeastwhich brings the double threat of heavy snow and high winds.

Hundreds of drivers in various states, including New York, South Dakota and Minnesota, were stranded this week and needed rescue. Some states have closed major highways to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel. Also more than 5,000 flights were cancelled Friday and more than 10,000 were delayed.

To make matters worse, even if the snowfall stops or slows, whiteout conditions are likely as winds are forecast to reach near or above 60 mph, causing damage and more power outages.

“If you lose power, it’s going to be dangerously cold,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of New York’s Homeland Security and Emergency Services, adding that people should seek warming shelters provided by some counties. “Please don’t assume you can survive this cold for a night without heat. You may not succeed.’

So far, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses are without electricity, according to Power outage.USAwhich means millions of inhabitants they probably don’t have adequate heating or hot water as extremely cold temperatures continue on Saturday.

New Hampshire, New York and Virginia had more than 50,000 outages as of early Saturday, while more than 240,000 outages were reported in Maine, the website showed.

Here’s what else you can expect this Christmas Eve:

• The cold is coming for many: More than 175 million people are under wind chill warnings across much of the central and eastern US. “Life-threatening freezing temperatures and dangerously cold winds will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for stranded travelers,” the National Weather Service said.

• Record temperatures in the south: Atlanta and Tallahassee, Fla., are expected to have their lowest high temperature ever recorded on Dec. 24, according to the weather service.

• Severe cold elsewhere: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will also see their coldest Christmas Eve day on Saturday. Washington, D.C. could see its second coldest Christmas Eve, with the first coming in 1989. New York City is expected to experience its coldest Christmas Eve since 1906. Chicago expects temperatures to soar above freezing, but will still experience its coldest Christmas Eve since 1983.

Flood threats continue: Risks of coastal and inland flooding exist for the Northeast from heavy rain falling on top of melting snowpack. Moderate to isolated major coastal flooding is possible due to strong onshore winds.

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