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Tuesday 23 July 2019

Six dead as bitter cold follows snow in eastern US

The National Weather Service forecast wind gusts up to 30mph and wind chills approaching minus 40C in northern New York state and Vermont.

(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)
(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)

By Holly Ramer, Associated Press

At least six people have died as bitter cold and gusty winds swept across the eastern US after heavy snow over the weekend.

The National Weather Service had forecast wind gusts up to 30mph and wind chills approaching minus 40C in northern New York state and Vermont.

On the north east’s highest mountain, the temperature fell to minus 35C on Monday afternoon, according to the Facebook page for Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Wind chills were hovering around minus 62C.

In New York state, Coast Guard crews moved quickly to rescue a 21-year-old man left stranded on an island in the Navensink River after his small boat broke down.

The Coast Guard said crews arrived just over half an hour after the call came in, and two members waded through 1C water to take the man to safety. The air temperature was minus 14C with 30mph wind.

“Cold water and below freezing temperatures can complicate rescues like this and turn a bad situation to worse very fast,” said Commander Rich Sansone, search and rescue co-ordinator for Coast Guard Sector New York.

The weather contributed to multiple deaths over the long Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend.

In suburban Chicago, the temperature was about minus 10C on Sunday when a 12-year-old girl died after a snow fort collapsed on her.

Police in Arlington Heights, Illinois, said Esther Jung had been playing with another girl outside Rothem Church. Their families began looking for them about an hour later and found them under the snow. The younger girl survived.

In Connecticut, a utility company subcontractor died on Sunday after being struck by a falling tree while working on a power line in Middletown.

More than 10,000 homes and businesses in the state remained without power on Monday afternoon, down from a high of more than 25,000 outages on Sunday as temperatures dropped below zero in some locations.

“This is a reminder of the danger these men and women face on our behalf,” governor Ned Lamont said in a tweet.

“While many are still out there working today, please join me in acknowledging them and sending our thoughts to this person’s family.”

In Kansas, a snowplough driver was killed when the plough drove on to the shoulder of a road and rolled over, throwing him under the vehicle. It was not clear why the driver had moved to the shoulder from the roadway.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said a 59-year-old man and a 91-year-old man collapsed and died on Sunday in separate incidents after removing snow.

A man in charge of transportation at a south-western Michigan school district also died while shovelling snow. Officials said Mike Westbrook died on Saturday from a heart attack.

While FlightAware reported about 480 cancelled flights on Monday, that was a fraction of the more than 1,600 that were cancelled the previous day.

After a few weather-related delays on Sunday, Amtrak restored all scheduled service on Monday.

Another storm is already developing over the Rockies that could blanket the same region with more snow by the end of the week.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for parts of Colorado for Monday night, and winter storm warnings for south-east Wyoming, western Nebraska and Utah.

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