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Big freeze engulfs much of snowbound America

Like many US cities, Buffalo in upstate New York remains buried beneath massive snow drifts.

Like many US cities, Buffalo in upstate New York remains buried beneath massive snow drifts. Photo: AP

Winter storms and biting cold that have gripped much of the US in recent days with deadly consequences.

Even as frigid temperatures were forecast across two-thirds of the country for the days ahead, along with snow, freezing rain and heavy showers, CBS News said it has tallied 83 confirmed weather-related US fatalities over the past week.

Tennessee accounted for 19 lost lives attributed to severe weather, and Oregon 16 more, the TV network reported, including three people who died of apparent electrocution from a power line that fell onto the vehicle in which they were travelling on Wednesday.

The remainder of the fatalities were reported across at least eight other states, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Washington, Kentucky, New York and New Jersey, according to CBS.

The Pacific northwest and parts of the south have borne the brunt of extreme winter weather during the past week, as homes and businesses consumed record amounts of natural gas for heating and power generation due to severe cold.

That pattern was continuing through the weekend with hard-freeze warnings posted on Saturday across a large swathe of the Gulf region, extending from eastern Texas and Louisiana through much of Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Florida and Georgia.

Wind chill factors as low as minus 17C were forecast in Mississippi for Saturday night.

The National Weather Service said a new cold air mass building over the nation’s midsection would send temperatures plunging well below average in some parts.

-AAP

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