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Arctic cold wave blamed for deaths and making life miserable for millions

Record or near-record cold is gripping the Midwest and East. Even in the Deep South, temperatures have dipped into the 20s. The bitter cold poses a danger across the country, as officials work to get the homeless off the streets and urge residents to help elderly neighbors. John Yang reports.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    An arctic cold wave still dominates the nation's weather tonight. It's blamed for several deaths, and it's making life miserable for millions of people. That includes New York, where a dozen people died last night in the city's worst residential fire in decades.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

  • John Yang:

    It was just 15 degrees when the Bronx blaze erupted, forcing firefighters to battle both the fire and the cold. Residents escaping the flames had to brave the elements.

  • Rafael Gonzalez:

    All I see is a bunch of kids on the fire escape cold, and with no jacket, no pajamas, no nothing.

  • John Yang:

    The city's fire commissioner said today the blaze was started by a child playing with a stove.

  • Daniel Nigro:

    The stairway acted like a chimney. It took the fire so quickly upstairs that people had very little time to react.

  • John Yang:

    New York's cold was part of the deep freeze gripping the Midwest and East with record or near-record cold. In parts of the Deep South, temperatures are dipping into the 20s.

  • Scott Douglas:

    I like cold weather, but this is getting to the point of ridiculous. Thank God I'm not in Erie or out in the Midwest or Minnesota, or I would move.

  • John Yang:

    President Trump remained at his Florida resort, but he warned New Year's Eve revelers in the East to bundle up, while taking another shot at climate science.

    He suggested that, "Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming."

    Around the country, the bitter cold left icy impressions, like this blanket of steam hovering above the harbor in Rockport, Maine. But the beauty belies the danger. Across the country, officials are working to get the homeless off the streets, and urging people to help elderly neighbors. Forecasters say the cold wave could last well into next week.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm John Yang.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    We will return to the issue of the weather and climate change after the news summary.

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