Winter storm and severe cold sweeps across US

By Aya Elamroussi, Derrick Hinds, Travis Caldwell, Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 4:17 PM ET, Sat December 24, 2022
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10:38 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

More than 100 million people remain under wind chill alerts nationwide Saturday

From CNN's Haley Brink 

Some wind chill alerts have begun to expire across portions of the central and eastern regions of the US, reducing the number of people under these alerts to more than 100 million people.

The alerts still include these cities:

  • Minneapolis
  • Indianapolis
  • Cleveland
  • Nashville
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte

A vast majority of these remaining alerts will expire by mid-day.

10:49 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Nashville mayor asks Tennessee Titans to postpone game amid rolling outages

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Tennessee Titans huddle during at SoFi Stadium in California on December 18.
Tennessee Titans huddle during at SoFi Stadium in California on December 18. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

John Cooper, the metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County mayor, on Saturday morning issued a tweet calling on the Tennessee Titans NFL team to postpone their noon game “in solidarity with our neighbors,” amid ongoing rolling blackouts by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 

Cooper said the TVA’s unilateral rolling blackouts will continue and asked all non-essential businesses to reduce power usage.

“TVA needs to invest in infrastructure to withstand extreme temps,” the mayor added.

CNN has reached out to the NFL and Tennessee Titans organizations for comment.

10:27 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Snowfall totals top 2 feet in Buffalo so far. Here's a look at other notable snowfall totals across the US

From CNN's Haley Brink 

A total of 27.8 inches (more than two feet) of snowfall has been recorded at Buffalo airport in New York since the snow began Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, much of the southern and eastern shorelines of the Great Lakes remain under blizzard warnings through tomorrow morning due to strong winds and additional lake-effect snow across the region.

The heaviest snowfall is expected east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario through tomorrow where an additional one to two feet of snow is possible. Winds could also gust as high as 65 mph across these regions today. 

“Travel will be impossible in the lake-effect snow band,” the Buffalo weather service office wrote in their blizzard warning. “Areas of blowing snow will produce zero visibility. Very strong winds will cause extensive tree damage and power outages.”

Here are some additional snowfall totals over the last 24 hours, according to the weather service:

  • Mancelona, Michigan: 26.5 inches
  • Sparr, Michigan: 26.0 inches
  • Alba, Michigan: 25.0 inches
  • Gaylord, Michigan: 20.0 inches
  • Kenmore, New York: 18.0 inches
  • Watertown, New York: 14.0 inches
  • Baraga, Michigan: 13.8 inches
11:40 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Electric power company in North Carolina announces "emergency outages" amid extreme cold temperatures

From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher, Rebekah Riess and Joe Sutton

Duke Energy, the electric power company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday morning announced “emergency outages” as extremely cold temperature drive unusually high energy demand across the Carolinas.

“We have begun short, temporary power outages. These emergency outages are necessary to protect the energy grid against longer, more widespread outages. We appreciate your patience,” the energy provider said in a tweet.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper spoke with the Duke Energy CEO, according to a statement from his office. 

“This morning I spoke with Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good to offer assistance and to express urgency about the need to restore power quickly in this extreme cold while keeping customers accurately informed,” Cooper said in the statement. “I’m grateful for the workers braving the wind and cold to get the power back on." 

10:17 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

2 dead in New York's Erie County after emergency vehicles were unable to reach residents, official says

From CNN’s Polo Sandoval and Celina Tebor

Lake Erie waters wash over the shoreline on in Hamburg, New York on Friday.
Lake Erie waters wash over the shoreline on in Hamburg, New York on Friday. (John Normile/Getty Images)

Two people have died in Erie County, New York, in what may be the community’s worst winter storm since the famous 1977 Buffalo blizzard, county officials said Saturday. 

The town of Cheektowaga reported two deaths Friday night after emergency vehicle services were unable to get to their homes during medical emergencies, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Saturday morning during a news conference.

The individuals died in separate incidents and their nature of their deaths is not known, he said.

In the hardest hit areas of the county, up to two-thirds of emergency response vehicles are stuck, Poloncarz said — in one instance, it took emergency responders over an hour and 40 minutes to travel only two miles on Friday night. 

“Due to the severity of the storm, it is unlikely we can provide transport to non-life-threatening situations,” he said, discouraging residents from calling 911 or the snow hotline numbers unless their lives were in danger.

The county has also received reports of natural gas and carbon monoxide backing into homes after snow blocked furnace and dryer vents, according to Poloncarz.

“This may turn out to be the worst storm in our community's history, surpassing the famed blizzard of 77 for its ferocity," he said.

9:42 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

More than 1.7 million customers remain without power 

From CNN's Joe Sutton

More than 1.7 million customers across the United States are still without power amid the winter weather and frigid temperatures.

At least 1,757,913 customers are in the dark as of 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, according to PowerOutage.US.

Here's a breakdown in terms of national regions:

  • Southeast: 708,876
  • New England: 384,566
  • South: 383,454
  • Mid-Atlantic: 228,440
  • Great Lakes: 27,653
  • Pacific: 14,811
  • Territories: 8,361
  • Midwest: 1,523
  • Mountain: 229
9:51 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Migrants in El Paso have trouble finding shelter amid uncommonly cold temperatures

From CNN's Ashley Killough and Ed Lavandera

Migrants warm themselves by a fire next to the US-Mexico border fence on December 22 in El Paso, Texas.
Migrants warm themselves by a fire next to the US-Mexico border fence on December 22 in El Paso, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

As freezing temperatures from a coast-to-coast winter storm arrive in El Paso, Texas, some migrants who haven’t turned themselves in to border agents or officials after crossing the US-Mexico border are having a difficult time finding shelter.

El Paso is in the midst of a declared state of emergency over thousands of migrants living in unsafe conditions, as a former President Donald Trump-era border policy keeping migrants out of the US remains in flux amid court proceedings.

The city has opened government-run shelters at its convention center, hotels and several unused schools, but is unable to accept migrants who don’t have documentation from Customs and Border Protection, said El Paso city spokesperson Laura Cruz Acosta.

The city must follow state and federal policies, which she said require migrants to have documentation in order to receive shelter at government-run facilities.

If undocumented migrants show up at government-run sites, they are connected with Customs and Border Protection to start the process of turning themselves in, or are connected with shelters run by nongovernmental organizations on the ground, she said.

As dangerously cold temperatures arrive this week, US border officials are warning migrants seeking to enter the country of the dire weather.

“Extremely cold, below freezing temperatures are expected along the Mexico and United States border during the next several days,” Hugo Carmona, acting associate chief of US Border Patrol Operations, said in a video statement. “Do not risk your life and that of your loved ones trying to cross the river or the desert. Help avoid human death and tragedy, stay home or remain in a safe shelter. This is a warning of extreme importance.”

Read more here and watch how migrants are coping with below freezing temperatures, in the video below:

9:52 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Tips to stay safe indoors and outdoors when extreme cold strikes

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A person crosses a street in Chicago on Thursday.
A person crosses a street in Chicago on Thursday. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Images)

If you are in the path of the winter storm, here are some tips for staying safe indoors and outdoors as temperatures drop.

Tips to stay safe indoors When staying indoors during cold temperatures or the winter storm, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:

  • Make sure any infants younger than 1 year old are not sleeping in cold rooms and have adequate warm clothing, such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets or sleep sacks. Remove any pillows or other soft bedding from a baby’s crib, since they pose the risk of smothering or sudden infant death syndrome.
  • If you have friends or neighbors older than 65, check on them frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated.
  • Leave water taps slightly open to prevent freezing pipes.
  • Eat well-balanced meals to stay warm.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, because they can cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.

“Never using generators, gas or charcoal grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside your home, in basements, in garages, or near windows,” the CDC says. “The fumes are deadly.”

Using the stove for heat is not safe, the CDC warns; instead, use extra blankets, sleeping bags or coats. A well-maintained fireplace or a portable space heater may be a safe alternative.

Tips to stay safe outdoors When venturing outdoors, the CDC and National Weather Service have some recommendations:

  • Dress warmly with hats, scarves and mittens and by wearing layers.
  • Avoid walking on ice and avoid getting wet.
  • If you have to shovel snow or do other outdoor work, take your time and work slowly. If you have older neighbors, offer to help shovel their walkways or driveways.
  • Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads if possible.
  • If you are stranded outdoors, it is safest to stay in your vehicle.
  • Try to keep pets indoors during cold weather, but if they go outside, thoroughly wipe their legs and underbelly free of snow when returning indoors. Never let your dog off leash on snow or ice.
9:08 a.m. ET, December 24, 2022

Here’s what you can expect this Christmas Eve as severe cold weather continues to impact the US

From CNN's Aya Elamroussi

More than 1.6 million homes and businesses nationwide were without power on the morning of Christmas Eve, thanks to an Arctic blast and winter storm that tore down power lines with destructive winds and heavy snow and dipped temperatures dangerously low – conditions killing at least 15 people.

As bone-chilling air continues to grip the US this holiday weekend, the unrelenting storm is pummeling the Midwest and parts of the East with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and even flooding along the Northeast coast. No letup is in sight until the end of Christmas Day.

At least 15 people have died since Wednesday across four states, a result of how dangerous and life-threatening conditions have been this week over a large swath of the country.

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 alerts from across much of the central and eastern US. “The life-threatening Cold Temperatures and Dangerous wind chills will create a potentially life-threatening hazard for travelers that become stranded,” the National Weather Service said.
  • Record temps in the South: Atlanta and Tallahassee, Florida, are forecast to have their coldest high temperature ever recorded on Dec. 24, according to the weather service.
  • Brutal cold elsewhere: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will also see their coldest day Christmas Eve ever on Saturday. Washington, DC, could see its second-coldest on Christmas Eve, the first being in 1989. New York is set to experience its coldest Christmas Eve since 1906. Chicago is expecting temperatures to rebound above zero but will still experience its coldest Christmas Eve since 1983.
  • Flooding threats persist: Both coastal and inland flooding risks are in store for the Northeast from heavy rain falling onto a melting snowpack. Moderate to isolated major coastal flooding is possible due to strong onshore winds.

CNN’s Britley Ritz, Amanda Watts, Tina Burnside, Ray Sanchez, Eric Levenson, Taylor Ward and Nicki Brown contributed reporting to this post.