'It's not the Christmas we wanted': Winter storm leaves at least 37 dead in US

'It's not the Christmas we wanted': Winter storm leaves at least 37 dead in US
Buffalo country in New York state has been hard hit by the winter storm facing large parts of the east coast. Credit: Govonor Kathy Hochul's Twitter

Millions of Americans were trapped in their homes on Sunday due to a winter storm that carried icy winds and covered large parts of the country in snow, leaving at least 37 people dead, according to a tally from CNN.

Buffalo city, in the State of New York, was particularly hard hit, with piles of snow reaching up to three metres in some places. "More than a dozen" there died because of the storm, officials said. Some were discovered in cars while others were found in snow dunes.

"This is not the Christmas any of us hoped for nor expected, but try to have as merry a Christmas as possible today," tweeted Mark Poloncarz, county executive of Erie, Pennsylvania. "Again, my deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones."

He reminded residents in the region of the driving ban currently in place. Only emergency vehicles and snow ploughs are currently allowed outside on the icy roads. In several areas of the country, cars are buried under a metre and a half of snow.

Many residents did not have any power on Sunday, with thousands unable to turn on lights or heating in Buffalo.

Governor Kathy Hocul tweeted that she has been in contact with The White House, which supports New York state declaring a national disaster. The move lets the state receive financial aid from federal funds.

She warned people in the state, including in New York city, to stay inside unless going outside was absolutely necessary.

Across the country, over 150,000 were left without power on Sunday on the east coast, particularly Maine and the state of New York, according to tracking site Poweroutage.us.

The latest outage is considerably less than the 1.8 million U.S. homes and businesses left without power early Saturday morning, according to the tracking site.

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Additionally, the icy blast upended travel and holiday plans for millions of Americans during one of the busiest seasons for travel.

Over 2,700 flights in the US were cancelled on Saturday, with delays coming up to 6,400, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Over 5,000 flights were cancelled on Friday.

The American Automobile Association estimated that 112.7 million would travel 80 kilometres or more from home over the Christmas period, but the icy weather over the weekend is likely to have kept many people at home.

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