(CNN) — Dozens of people across the United States have died from a series of winter storms, and now the weather threatens to batter the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with snow and ice.
More than 100 million people stretching from Texas to Massachusetts are under a winter storm warning or winter weather warning, and more days of deep freeze could mean a multiplication of heartbreaking stories of hardship.
Fierce cold weather that has brought blankets of snow and widespread power outages in Texas and Oklahoma is expected to move east on Thursday, bringing an inch of ice to parts of North Carolina and Virginia, according to the CNN meteorologist. Taylor Ward.
A tornado watch is in effect for parts of the Florida Panhandle, southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama until 8 a.m. ET. Washington will be covered in snow, sleet and freezing rain Thursday morning, while New York should see 6 to 8 inches of snow in the afternoon, Ward said.
The weather is not your typical winter cold. Some of those already affected by the storms have spent days without power or water, and they likely won’t see temperatures rise above freezing until next week.
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Without electricity to survive the cold, many have turned to other means such as gas stoves and generators to keep warm, risking carbon monoxide poisoning. To date, 38 deaths have been attributed to winter storms since Thursday.
Texans have endured the brunt of the heartache.
A mother told CNN that she is considering driving to Mexico to keep her family safe in a hotel. With another freeze planned, she is running out of options for three of her children whose insulin is spoiling and her son on the autism spectrum who has a compromised immune system.
“Either you go to the shelter to warm up, or you stay home, stay cold and stay away from the pandemic,” Sylvia Cerda Salinas told CNN’s Don Lemon.
The weather turns fatal
Continued severe weather means more days of risk of fatalities and injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned doctors Wednesday to be aware of the increased risk of carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths as storms hit the country.
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas that can build up when any type of fossil fuel is burned: gasoline, coal, or natural gas. Home heating systems are a common source, but the danger is especially high when people turn to unusual sources of heat or power during power outages.
From Saturday to Monday, four adults in Oregon died of carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to keep warm, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. One person appears to have lit charcoal briquettes indoors while three others were taking refuge in RVs.
While Kentucky officials have responded to carbon monoxide-related calls, state police reported Wednesday that a 25-year-old was found dead Friday as a result of hypothermia.
Texas has lost 16 residents due to the weather, while the rest of the balance spans Tennessee, Oregon, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
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Residents seek refuge in their cars
With little else available, many families rely on their vehicles to survive the cold.
In San Antonio, Jordan Orta and his 2-year-old son slept in their car Tuesday night because their home without power was so cold as the outside temperature dropped to -7 degrees Celsius. His home was without power from Tuesday night until early Wednesday morning after previous outages.
Another Texas family, faced with a house without electricity, chose to drive more than 200 miles through the snow and ice, seeking shelter.
The journey that normally lasted two and a half hours turned into a five- or six-hour journey, Bryce Smith said. He said the only thing that made the trip from Austin to Royce City possible was that he is from Iowa and knows how to drive in the snow.
There are no snow plows here. There is no help. If you go out here, there is only fresh snow and ice. There is no sand, ”he said.
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A long wait for the power to return
More than 1.7 million customers in the US were left without power early Thursday, according to PowerOutages.US. And the damage to public services means that many will be hunkered down for a while longer.
Winter storms in Kentucky have caused “physical damage to the infrastructure that transmits and delivers electricity to homes” and some residents may still be without power at the end of the week, state officials said.
“We believe we are going to make substantial progress through the end of this week to get power back to the people, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky it may take longer than the end of the week,” said Governor Andy Beshear, who he acknowledged that it was bad news for residents.
With more snow and ice expected Thursday, Entergy, a power company in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, said about 40,000 of its customers in Louisiana were still without power Wednesday as a result of winter storms, according to a release of the company.
The weather has also destroyed water plants in many places, including Marlin, a city in central Texas with a population of more than 5,500 residents.
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Speaking of residents’ frustration, Marlin City Manager Cedric Davis said: “They are cursing us, insulting us, saying they don’t understand, they don’t understand. We cried last night. We are giving everything. People are so inhuman. Do not understand. I had never seen anything like this, “reported the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Fortunately, Texas power provider, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said Wednesday that it was making progress on restoring power to the state’s electrical system and expected local utilities to return to rotating outages instead. of extended outages on Thursday morning.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Konstantin Toropin, Dave Alsup, Artemis Moshtaghian, Rebekah Riess, Jason Hanna, Steve Almasy, Ed Lavandera, Joe Sutton, and Keith Allen contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism