A savage Christmas storm has wreaked havoc in the US and Canada with at least 17 people feared dead.
Powerful Arctic winds have caused Christmas travel nightmares during the festive season.
At one point during the day, nearly 1.7 million customers were without electricity in the biting cold, according to tracker poweroutage.us.
Howling winds and dangerously cold temperatures kept much of the nation, including the normally temperate south, in a frozen grip for a third straight day.
New York state Governor Kathy Hochul deployed the National Guard to Erie County and its main city Buffalo, where authorities said emergency services have essentially collapsed in the face of extreme blizzard conditions.
Last night the National Weather Service warned that blizzard conditions in the Great Lakes region caused by lake-effect snow will continue into the night, including in Buffalo.
One couple in the lakeside city, which sits across the border from Canada, told AFP that with the roads completely impassible, they would not be making a ten-minute drive to see their family for Christmas.
“It’s tough because the conditions are just so bad… a lot of fire departments aren’t even sending out trucks for calls,” said 40-year-old Rebecca Bortolin.
Her fiance Ali Lawson is having back pain, but plans to tough it out at home because driving to the hospital is just too dangerous.
“We can currently see across the street, but last night we couldn’t see past our porch,” said Ms Lawson.
The “bomb cyclone” winter storm, one of the fiercest in decades, had already forced the cancellation of over 3,300 US flights yesterday and the delay of nearly 7,500 more, a day after nearly 6,000 were scrapped, according to tracking website Flightaware.com.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted that “the most extreme disruptions are behind us as airline and airport operations gradually recover” – words that travellers stranded at airports including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York were holding on to.
Road ice and white-out conditions also led to the closure of some of the nation’s busiest transport routes, including the cross-country Interstate 70, parts of which were temporarily shut down in Colorado and Kansas.
The National Weather Service warned about lethal conditions and urged residents in affected areas to remain indoors. On Friday, it said wind chills had sent temperatures plunging to -48C.