Deadly Power Outages Plague U.S. Amidst Bitter Cold Temps, Ice

Deadly Power Outages Plague U.S. Amidst Bitter Cold Temps, Ice

Power outages struck parts of Michigan and the northeastern part of the U.S., and utility companies say thousands will be without power until tomorrow. Many of the power outages were caused by heavy ice pulling down power lines, and frigid temperatures continue across the affected areas.

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Deaths caused by power outages, frigid temps

USA Today reports that at least 27 deaths have been blamed on the power outages and extreme cold temperatures. Of those who had died, 17 of them were in the U.S., while the other ten were in Canada. Seven of the ten people in Canada who died were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning as they attempted to use barbecues or generators to stay warm in the freezing temperatures.

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The number of people without power has fluctuated as some residents see their power come back on while others lose it. Michigan was the worst-hit by the power outages, as nearly 140,000 homes were still without power on Christmas Day. More than half a million homes and businesses were affected on Saturday when the storm hit, so some progress has been made. However, the ice and snow has created challenges which have prevented utility companies from being able to get the power back on for tens of thousands of people.

Ice causing power outages

The biggest problem crews are dealing with right now is the cold temperatures because they are preventing the large amounts of ice which are weighing on power lines from melting. However, one small area of good news for Michigan is that meteorologists believe dry weather is ahead for the next few days, so more snow or ice shouldn’t be a problem through Saturday.

In addition to Michigan, many parts of Maine were also affected. Temperatures have remained in the single digits, and the state could see an additional two to six inches of snow today, making conditions even more challenging for utility crews. The city of Ellsworth, Maine declared a state of emergency because of the extreme cold and widespread power outages.

The American Red Cross has opened warming centers in some parts of the affected areas. In some areas, residents can call 211 to be connected with the United Way and find out where the nearest warming center is.

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Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at
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