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Sunday 20 October 2019

Warning of days of bitter cold ahead for areas of US as record snow hits city

Rochelle Carlotti, 28, digs snow near her home in Erie (Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP)
Rochelle Carlotti, 28, digs snow near her home in Erie (Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP)

Forecasters in the US warned of sub-zero arctic air and dangerously cold wind chills across much of the country as snow continued to pile up in one city which already has nearly 63ins on the ground.

A storm in Erie, Pennsylvania, brought 34ins of snow on Christmas Day, an all-time daily snowfall record, and another 24.5ins by Tuesday night.

More than 62.9ins have fallen on the city since December 23, with an additional 2-4ins predicted on Wednesday.

The city issued a snow emergency, citing "dangerous and impassable" roads, and asked residents to stay off the streets.

State police and the state's department of transportation urged people to avoid travel, citing poor visibility and deteriorating conditions.

Erie county executive Kathy Dahlkemper declared a disaster emergency to allow "needed resources to be obtained".

Wind chill advisories or warnings are in effect for all of North Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as large areas of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana.

Wind chill advisories were also in effect for parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York.

Meteorologists warn frostbite is possible with as little as 30 minutes of exposure.

In Millcreek, outside Erie, it took Kathleen Palkovic and her 23-year-old son two hours to dig out so she could make it to her waitressing job.

The five-mile drive to Dave's Diner in downtown Erie took an hour. Mrs Palkovic, 62, and the cook opened the restaurant at a little after 6am in single-digit temperatures.

"We're dedicated people, I guess," she said.

Snow ploughs descended on the Erie area and Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf sent 21 National Guard troops driving Humvees and other such vehicles to help with the emergency response and transport essential emergency services and hospital employees.

Ms Dahlkemper said things were under control as well as could be expected, considering the heavy snowfall.

"We're used to a lot of snow here in Erie, but this is unprecedented, the amount we got," she said.

The timing was good, since people were off the streets and staying home for Christmas, giving ploughs more space to clear streets, she added.

Emergency calls have been relatively slow and, with streets in relatively good condition, the big task now is digging out cars and driveways, Ms Dahlkemper said.

Weather also was being blamed for a Kansas accident that killed four people after the pickup truck they were in fell off a bridge on Interstate 70.

In New York communities near Lake Ontario's eastern end, including Redfield and Boylston, road crews were trying to move five feet of snow that has fallen since Christmas Day. Other towns in western New York east of Lake Erie also received heavy snow.

PA Media

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