Death Toll From Snow Storm And Extreme Cold Reaches 60 As Erie County, New York, Takes Biggest Hit

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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The death toll from the Christmas winter storm that continues to batter North America surpassed 60 on Tuesday.

At least 65 people have died across the U.S. due to weather-related incidents, according to NBC News. At least 28 of those deaths were reported in Buffalo, New York, and Erie County in general.

Seventeen people who died in the county were found outdoors, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted Tuesday. Three died from shoveling snow, three bodies were discovered in vehicles, seven died in their homes from a lack of heating and one person died due to an emergency service delay.

Search and rescue operations are still underway with the help of the military and police, with the death toll expected to climb as the week progresses. (RELATED: Death Valley National Park Experiences Rare, Massive Flooding)

More than 1.7 million Americans were without power during parts of the storm, which swept eastwards across the continent from the Pacific Northwest. Thousands of people also lost power during the storms after a series of substations were attacked in Washington state. There was also a series of similar attacks in North Carolina earlier in December.

While the winter storm is expected to ease slightly through the rest of the week, a sudden warming could lead to increased hazards such as tornadoes, storms and other extreme weather events.