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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — Dozens of people across the United States have died from a spate of winter storms — and now the weather is threatening to pummel 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 advisory, and more days of deep freeze could mean a multiplication of the harrowing tales of hardship.
Angel Garcia and her family in Killeen, Texas, have been rationing oxygen tanks for her 5-month-old son, who was born with underdeveloped lungs. Garcia, a nurse, is watching him constantly, she said. The family lost power on Monday night and was running out of wood, so they burned her 3-year-old daughter's baby blocks in the fireplace, she said.
Texans have borne the brunt of the distress. Of the more than 1 million US customers without power Thursday morning, 652,455 were in Texas, according to PowerOutages.US. The outages are down from an earlier count of more than 5 million, but more harsh weather could impact more Americans.
The cold weather that has brought blankets of snow and widespread power outages in Texas as well as Oklahoma is expected to move east Thursday, bringing with it a half an inch of ice to parts of North Carolina and Virginia, according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.
A tornado watch is in effect for parts of the Florida Panhandle, Southwest Georgia and Southeast Alabama until 8 a.m. EST. Washington, DC will be coated in snow, sleet and freezing rain by Thursday morning, while New York should see six to eight inches of snow in the afternoon, Ward said.
The weather is not the typical winter cold. Some of those who have already been impacted by the storms have spent days without power and water, and likely won't see temperatures rise above freezing until next week.
Without electricity to survive the cold, many have been turning to other means like gas stoves and generators to stay warm, running the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. To date, 38 deaths have been attributed to the winter storms since Thursday.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned doctors Wednesday to be aware of the increased hazard of carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths as storms sweep through 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 electricity outages.
From Saturday to Monday, four adults in Oregon died of carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to stay warm, according to Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. One person appears to have ignited charcoal briquettes inside while three others were sheltering in recreational vehicles.
While Kentucky officials have responded to calls regarding carbon monoxide, state police reported Wednesday that a 25-year-old was found Friday dead as a result of hypothermia.
Texas has lost 16 residents to the weather, while the rest of the toll is spread across Tennessee, Oregon, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
With little else available, many families are relying on their vehicles to make it through the cold. — Courtesy CNN
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