Weather Updates | NY governor calls storm ‘life-threatening’ | will it snow in florida


NEW YORK — Gov. Kathy Hochul described the snowstorm hitting western New York state as “life-threatening” and “one of the worst in history.”

The heavy snow is part of a huge winter storm that’s also creating high winds, frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills in much of the U.S. The storm has been blamed for at least 12 deaths, including two in a Buffalo suburb after emergency crews couldn’t get to their homes when they suffered medical emergencies. It has left about 1.7 million people without power.

Hochul said in a late Saturday morning briefing that the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is closed through Monday morning, and some roads are closed through Christmas Day.

Almost every fire truck in Buffalo, she said, was stranded and stuck in snow as of Saturday morning.

“No matter how many emergency vehicles we have, they cannot get through the conditions as we speak,” she said.

— Winter storm blamed for at least 12 deaths, large power outages

— Unusual cold in Florida doesn’t stop Santas from surfing

— Frigid weather delays start of Texans-Titans game in Nashville

— Wisconsin gas company pushed customers to lower thermostats

— Kentucky governor warns residents to avoid Interstate 71

— Indiana Michigan Power asks customers to reduce electric use

— More than 450,000 are without power in North Carolina

— Officials say blizzard in western New York may be area’s worst ever

— Tennessee Valley Authority imposes forced power interruptions

COCOA BEACH, Fla. — For the surfing Santas off Florida’s central coast, the Atlantic Ocean was going to feel more like the North Pole than the Sunshine State.

Temperatures on Saturday morning plunged to around freezing, while freeze warnings were in place for at least half of the state.

Parts of the Florida Panhandle had wind chills that dipped into the single digits on Saturday morning, and interior parts of central Florida had temperatures plunging as low as 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.7 Celsius).

“It’s a frigid start to your #ChristmasEve across the area,” the National Weather Service in Tallahassee tweeted.

Despite the frigid temperature, the 14th annual Christmas Eve Surfing Santas festival was being held Saturday morning at Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast.

The event has grown from 10 surfers dressed in Santa costumes when it started in 2009 to 600 participants on surfboards, boogie boards and paddle boards in years past. In anticipation of the frigid weather, a beachside restaurant planned to distribute free hot cocoa to the expected thousands of spectators, according to organizers.

NASHVILLE — Extreme cold and power outages in the region delayed the kickoff of the Houston Texans’ visit to the Tennessee Titans by an hour after the Nashville mayor asked the hometown team to postpone the game.

The Titans issued a statement saying the decision was made with the National Football League, the local Office of Emergency Management, the Nashville Electric Service and the mayor’s office out of “an abundance of caution” so that the game would not harm the community.

The team also said it is working to cut all nonessential power around Nissan Stadium even with gates open for fans.

“At all times, the operation of the game remained secondary to the well-being of our community and we can’t thank the OEM and NES enough for their dedication to the safety of our neighbors.”

The temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8.3 Celsius) but felt like 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.6 Celsius) about 75 minutes before the scheduled kickoff.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper wrote on social media asking everyone, especially nonessential businesses, to cut back their power usage, with the Tennessee Valley Authority using rolling blackouts to protect the power grid.

MILWAUKEE — A company that provides natural gas throughout Wisconsin asked customers to drop their thermostats to 60 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit overnight Friday because a pipeline equipment failure temporarily cut the gas coming from one of its suppliers by 30%.

Milwaukee-based We Energies said the problem was resolved Saturday morning. It told customers that lowering their thermostats to conserve gas would head off a “significant” outage and that it couldn’t get gas from other pipelines Friday because of the frigid weather caused by the winter storm across much of the U.S.

But the environmental group Citizen Action of Wisconsin said Saturday that the utility could have lessened natural gas use over time before the storm by allowing customers, especially poor ones, easy financing for weatherizing their homes or installing solar panels, and by supporting community solar power in Milwaukee.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The massive, wild winter storm that has gripped much of the U.S. has been blamed for deaths in Vermont, New York, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas.

Multiple highways were closed and crashes claimed at least eight lives, officials said. Four people died in a massive pileup involving some 50 vehicles on the Ohio Turnpike. A Kansas City, Missouri, driver was killed Thursday after skidding into a creek, and three others died Wednesday in separate crashes on icy northern Kansas roads.

A 51-year-old Vermont woman died Friday after a tree in her back yard broke off in high winds and fell on her in the town of Castleton, in west-central Vermont near New York. Police said she died at a hospital after the Friday morning accident.

In New York, two people died in their homes in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga on Friday when emergency crews could not reach them in time to treat their medical emergencies, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Saturday.

Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said they found the body of a person who appeared to be homeless during this week’s winter storm. Officers found the 42-year-old man’s body outside near the Citadel Mall at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, The Gazette reported.

FRANKFORT, Ky.—- Gov. Andy Beshear is warning Kentucky residents to avoid a stretch of Interstate 71 after a series of accidents since Thursday night.

The interstate through northern Kentucky links Louisville to Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We got one cleared, then another happened. We got that cleared, and then another happened,” Beshear said during a news briefing Saturday. “If you can avoid it, please do. Don’t travel if you don’t have to.”

Highways officials said traffic on the interstate in northern Kentucky was backed up for 14 miles (23 kilometers). One southbound lane was open but traffic was moving slowly and taking several hours to route onto alternate roads.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The company providing electricity to parts of northeastern Indiana and southwestern Michigan is asking customers to reduce their power use because of extraordinary demands on its system.

Indiana Michigan Power, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, warned that it might have to direct a regional power grid operator to begin “grid protection power outages” that “would be brief and intermittent whenever possible to limit the impact on customers.”

Meanwhile, Detroit-based DTE Energy said more than 23,000 lost power as the storm and freezing temperatures blew into Michigan.

As of 7 a.m. Saturday, the utility said about 80% had their service restored. More than 1,700 employees and support teams were working throughout the Christmas holiday weekend to restore full service, DTE Energy said.

County road crews in parts of western Michigan were experiencing white-out conditions due to the snow blowing across roadways.

RALEIGH, N.C. — More than 450,000 customers in North Carolina were without electricity, according to, as temperatures that dipped into the single digits early Saturday strained the power system.

Duke Energy said that it was putting planned emergency outages in place because of high demand and that trees felled in high winds had also damaged some lines. Maps indicated that the outages were spread throughout the state, but the highest concentration was in the Charlotte area where more than 100,000 were reported in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg County said Friday it was adding capacity to its homeless shelters.

State officials said warming centers were opening around the state.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Officials are describing the ongoing blizzard in western New York around Buffalo as potentially the worst the area has ever seen.

Chief Timothy Carney of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office said deputies abandoned 10 police vehicles overnight Friday after getting stuck.

“It’s essentially a category 3 hurricane with a bunch of snow mixed in. It’s been like that for the past 24 hours,” Carney said.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Saturday that there were still probably hundreds of people stuck in vehicles.

“This may turn out to be the worst storm in our community’s history,” Poloncarz said during a news conference Saturday.

There was no emergency service available in Buffalo and several populous cities and towns.

“That is not to say attempts aren’t being made but there is no guarantee that in a life-threatening emergency situation that they’re going to be able to respond immediately,” he said.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority directed local power companies on Saturday to implement planned interruptions to “ensure power system reliability.”

The authority provides electricity to 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states.

“This measure is expected to be temporary until the highest peak power demands have been met,” TVA said in a statement.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Almost 400,000 electric customers across the six New England states remained without power on Saturday morning.

The most outages were reported in Maine where more than 237,000 customers were in the dark.

Some utilities warned it could be days before power is restored.

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