An Arctic blast has pushed temperatures to drop dangerously below freezing point in many states across the country, from New York state all the way down to Texas, and brought about blizzard-like conditions that have severely disrupted travel for millions of Americans.
This extreme weather, which the National Weather Service (NWS) described as “a major and anomalous storm,” has put the country’s energy grid under significant strain, with seven states experiencing power outages on Christmas Day.
According to poweroutage.us, which monitors power outages across the country, more than 175,000 customers across Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia are without power.
Maine is the worst hit state, with over 95,000 people out of power as of the time of publication of this article on Christmas Day, and three energy providers—Central Maine Power, Eastern Maine Power Cooperative and Versant Power—affected.
“Outages in our service territory peaked last night at over 70,000,” wrote Versant Power on Twitter late on Saturday. “We have about 50 percent of those customers restored, with under 34,000 customers currently without power. Sixty percent of the peak total are expected to be restored tonight.”
The company later added that on Sunday “over 100 crews will be working to continue restoration efforts throughout our service territory. Approx. 26,000 customers are without power. We expect to have additional restoration updates as the day progresses.”
Central Maine Power wrote on Twitter that, while some 160,000 customers had their power restored on Christmas Eve, “full restoration will go into early next week, and we will all be here until every customer is restored.”
The second-worst hit state was New York, with more than 35,000 people out of power, followed by Virginia with more than 17,000 customers cut off from electricity.
In New Hampshire, more than 15,000 customers had lost power as of early on Sunday, and in Pennsylvania it stood at over 12,000.
In Vermont those cut off from electricity totaled more than 10,000 people.
Conditions are expected to remain chilly on Sunday, even as the NWS expects the arctic air that has been enveloping most of the country in the past few days “will be slow to moderate” between December 25 and 27, and “lake-effect snows downwind from Great Lakes with locally blizzard conditions will slowly become less intense.”
The agency still warns travellers against the risks of remaining stranded outdoors amid “life-threatening cold temperatures” and “dangerous wind chills.”
At least 18 people have been killed across the U.S. by the nearly unprecedented winter storm. More than 2,000 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve, according to tracking site FlightAware.