Fierce winter weather slams US, dozens dead

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Unrelenting storms have pummelled the United States over the past week, leading to at least 50 weather-related deaths, officials and U.S. media reported Friday, as large swathes of the country brace for new winter wallops.

Frigid temperatures, snow gales and thick ice have caused fatal accidents on treacherous roadways, snarled air travel, closed schools and cut power to thousands, with millions of Americans under fresh weather warnings.

In Tennessee, 14 weather-related fatalities were confirmed by the southeastern state’s health department, while five women who were returning home after making a pilgrimage to Mecca died on a Pennsylvania highway Tuesday in an accident with a tractor-trailer, according to police.

Five weather-related deaths occurred in Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear said in a statement Friday, while in Oregon, three people were electrocuted when a live power line fell on their parked car during an ice storm Wednesday, the Portland fire department said.

The storm had left 75,000 Oregon customers without power as of Friday evening, according to Poweroutage.us, a tracking website, and the state’s governor has declared a state of emergency.

Deaths were also reported in Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin and Washington state, where five people are believed to have succumbed to exposure, local media reported, citing Seattle officials.

Blizzard conditions hammered several parts of the country including the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains and parts of New England — notably western New York, where meteorologists said about 75 inches (1.9 meters) of snow fell near Buffalo in a five-day span this week.

Frigid temperatures have also extended deep into the U.S. South, a region not used to contending with such winter weather.

Parts of the country are bracing for more brutal conditions this weekend.

“Another Arctic blast will bring cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills to the Plains and the Mississippi Valley to the eastern U.S.,” the National Weather Service said Friday in its latest alert.

Air travel suffered significant setbacks Friday too, with more than 1,100 U.S. flights cancelled and another 8,000 delayed, according to the website Flightaware.com

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