Dozens dead as big freeze grips North America

At least 38 deaths have now been linked to a severe Arctic freeze that continues to affect the United States and Canada.

Officials say 34 people have died in the United States, with the hardest hit area in the city of Buffalo in upstate New York.

Four fatalities occurred in Canada when a bus overturned on an icy road near the town of Merritt in the Western Province of British Columbia.

The extent of the winter storm was unprecedented, stretching from Canada all the way to the Rio Grande.

Forecasters say the storm will ease over the next few days, but advice remains to avoid traveling unless essential.

The storm wreaked havoc for days, but power was steadily restored after previous blackouts.

Fewer than 200,000 customers were without power Sunday afternoon EDT, down from a peak of 1.7 million, the Associated Press reports.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled, preventing many people from reaching their families at Christmas.

More than 55 million Americans remained on alert for wind chill Sunday.

The “bomb cyclone” winter storm — which happens when air pressure plummets, causing heavy snow and winds — has disrupted travel across the United States.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, said, “This will go down in history as Buffalo’s most devastating storm.”

“IT IS [like] going into a war zone and the vehicles lining the side of the roads are shocking,” he told reporters on Sunday evening.

Residents still face a “very life-threatening situation” and anyone in the area should stay indoors, he said.

Twelve deaths have been confirmed in Erie County, with some victims found dead in cars or snowdrifts.

Storm-related deaths were also reported in Vermont, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas and Colorado. South Florida temperatures dropped so low that iguanas froze and fell out of trees.

The state of Montana in the western US is the hardest hit by the cold, with temperatures dropping to -50F (-45C).

In Canada, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec are bearing the brunt of the storm.

In Quebec nearly 120,000 customers were left without electricity on Sunday. Officials say it could take days to reconnect some families.

BBC graph showing how a bomb cyclone can develop

BBC graph showing how a bomb cyclone can develop

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