(CNN) —The winter storm that affects the United States from coast to coast with low temperatures has already left one million homes and businesses without electricity, 3,500 canceled flights and prompted more than a dozen governors to declare emergency plans before Christmas weekend.
The storm, which is expected to strengthen further this Friday, is bringing heavy snowfall and icing, creating highly dangerous conditions on roads due to poor visibility and leaving some drivers stranded in unbearably freezing temperatures. .
Travel has also been affected, with hundreds of kilometers of roads cut and more and more flights cancelled.
Leading up to the holiday weekend, more than 200 million people across the country are under wind chill watches, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, and from Washington state to Florida. For this Friday, temperatures below zero are also expected in the southeast. Other winter weather watches are in effect for blizzard, ice, snow and flood conditions.
“The National Weather Service Watch Warning chart represents one of the largest winter weather warning and advisory outreaches in history,” the agency said Thursday.
Meanwhile, in Kansas, authorities confirmed that there were three fatal accidents this Wednesday night, and in each of them there was a death. Although it was only confirmed in one of the cases, it is believed that all three accidents were weather related.
The US Secretary of Transportation urged caution
As the winter storm rages, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called for prioritizing safety, saying he is particularly concerned about highways.
“The main concern is always safety.” she asserted.
Buttigieg also warned that the country is “going to see a lot of disruption” to air travel over the holiday weekend.
“I know we all want to get to meet our loved ones for the holidays, but please pay close attention to what your local authorities say. If they say it’s not safe to drive, it’s not safe to drive,” Buttigieg said. “No matter how quickly you want to get to your loved ones, make sure you get there safely.”
“These temperatures that we are seeing, especially in the middle part of the country, can make an accident more dangerous,” Buttigieg added.
For air travelers, Buttigieg said: “I encourage people to stay in touch with their airlines, look at the app, check what’s going on with their flight.”
“Many things are very important to us during the holidays, our traditions, our loved ones, but of course the most important thing is to be safe,” Buttigieg said. She recommended the Department of Transportation website for tips on driving safely in winter weather.
They canceled at least 3,500 flights this Friday due to the weather
Winter weather continues to disrupt holiday travel this Friday, causing delays and cancellations during one of the busiest times of the year.
As of 10 a.m. ET Friday, more than 3,500 flights had already been cancelled, after nearly 2,700 cancellations on Thursday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.
Cancellations are highest at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, New York’s LaGuardia and in Chicago and Detroit, according to FlightAware data.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, for its acronym in English) said early Friday that it may have to stop or restrict traffic at airports in the Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington areas.
The Chicago and Denver airports suffered the most cancellations and delays on Thursday. Chicago O’Hare International Airport experienced delays of nearly three hours on average Thursday due to snow and ice.
More than a million users without electricity
Power outages across the country increased to more than 1,172,000 customers this Friday morning, according to the site poweroutage.us.
Power outages are expected to continue to increase throughout the day as sub-zero weather conditions continue to spread and snow storms worsen.
With information from Andrew Millman, Karla Cripps, Forrest Brown