More than 90 dead after fierce US winter storms

Freezing US weather causes striking ice formations.

More than 90 weather-related deaths have been recorded across the US after the country was pummelled by ferocious winter storms for the past week.

The deaths include at least 25 in Tennessee and 16 in Oregon, which remains under a state of emergency following severe ice storms.

Tens of thousands of people also remain without power across wide swathes of the country.

Icy conditions are expected to ease off in the next few days.

A total of 92 weather-related fatalities have been recorded across the country over the past week, according to a tally maintained by CBS, the BBC’s US partner.

While the death toll has been greatest in Tennessee and Oregon, fatalities have also been reported in Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, Kentucky, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.

In one incident in Portland, Oregon last Wednesday, three people were electrocuted to death when powerful winds caused a power line to fall and strike the vehicle in which they were travelling. A baby who was in the vehicle survived.

Car after winter storm in Iowa
Image caption, A frozen car after an accident in Iowa on 15 January

Other deaths remain under investigation, including that of a person killed in a five-car crash in Kentucky and four in Illinois.

Five people – most of them presumed to be homeless – died over the course of just four days in Seattle, according to the Associated Press.

In Mississippi, the weather has prompted officials to warn drivers to “drive only if necessary” and “be aware of black ice” on the state’s roads. Colleges and universities in the state have delayed students’ return from winter break due to the conditions.

The state’s death toll rose to 11 after three more deaths were announced there on Sunday.

Mississippi officials are also investigating whether online rumours about potential storm-related water shortages prompted residents to store water in their bathtubs. The move caused a temporary drop in water pressure and dry faucets for thousands of residents in Jackson, the state’s capital, which has historic water issues.

Water issues also continue to plague Tennessee, where 400,000 remain under a boil water notice due to broken pipes in the Memphis area – one of nearly 30 areas that issues similar warnings. The local utility there said it had fixed 41 water mains and more than 4,000 water pipes because of the cold temperatures.

“Use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice” the company said on X. “Tap water is safe for bathing and showering, try to avoid getting it in your mouth.”

Restaurants and bars in the US southern city were reportedly using bottled water to serve customers on Sunday, with some forced to close or offer modified menus.

While electricity has largely been restored in areas of the US that lost it due to the winter weather, tens of thousands of people remain without power across the country.

As of Sunday evening, 45,000 people were without power in Oregon. Further power outages were reported in Pennsylvania, California, New Mexico and Indiana. 

The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for Monday for parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and driving conditions were expected to be treacherous in large swathes of the country into Monday.

After that, a thaw is expected, with some meteorologists warning that warm air and rain could cause flooding in parts of the Midwest and north-eastern US.

By the end of the week, temperatures in some eastern parts of the country could be well above the average for the time of year.

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