Buffalo snowfall: Historic storm hits western New York with nearly 6 feet of snow


A historic snowstorm hits western New York on Saturday with more than 6 feet of snow in some places, closing roads, triggering driving bans and canceling flights the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday .

Extreme snowfall “will produce near zero visibility, very difficult or impossible travel, damage to infrastructure and could cripple the hardest hit communities,” the Center for Weather Forecasting said Saturday morning.

Snowfall of more than 6 feet was recorded at two locations, according to the National Weather Service. Orchard Park, where the NFL’s Buffalo Bills play, picked up 77.0 inches in the past 48 hours, and Natural Bridge, just east of Watertown, picked up 72.3 inches – historic numbers for the region .

As the snowfall intensified, two county residents died of heart complications related to the shoveling and attempted clearing, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

“We send our deepest condolences and remind everyone that this snow is very heavy and dangerous,” Poloncarz said. “Please continue to avoid shoveling this very heavy, wet snow – and be careful and avoid overwork if you have to shovel today.”

Winter weather alerts are still in effect for more than 6 million people in six Great Lakes states Saturday morning – Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

Forecasters and officials have sounded the alarm over the life-threatening nature of this snowstorm, which is historic even for the Buffalo area where heavy snow is the norm during the winter months. And the heavy snowfall is expected to continue through the weekend with small periods of relief.

Watch the snow pile up as New York City faces a historic blizzard

Areas northeast of Lake Ontario – from central Jefferson County to northern Lewis County – were awash in heavy snow Friday night as the rate of snowfall reached up to 3 inches per hour, according to Buffalo Weather Service. Places between Watertown and Harrisville were also experiencing dangerous conditions.

The state of emergency remains in effect and Dan Neaverth Jr., Erie County Homeland Security Commissioner, said he doesn’t expect travel restrictions to go away any time soon.

“It’s Saturday. There’s absolutely no reason to be there today,” he advised.

Dozens of flights arriving and departing from Buffalo Niagara International Airport have been canceled due to worsening storm conditions, according to the airport’s website.

This month is already Buffalo’s third snowiest November at the airport thanks to the storm, according to the local weather service.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN on Saturday that while his city is used to heavy snowfall, it’s “a lot more than we usually get.”

He said the city could return to “some sense of normalcy” by Monday or Tuesday, assuming the worst of the storm passes by Sunday.

“It was a very unpredictable storm with bands of snow moving, back and forth, north to south,” Brown said. “The snow fell very quickly, very wet, very heavy.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Saturday she was from Hamburg, just south of Buffalo.

“But even with this story, in this context, it’s one for the record books,” she told CNN. “The most snowfall in the 24-hour period likely in state history. We’ll have the actual numbers soon.

The colossal storm has been battering the region for days, prompting local and state officials to issue states of emergency to bolster the response. But with such a large storm, all it takes is one or two vehicles to slow down clearance operations, Poloncarz noted.

“A reminder to all employers: if your business is located in a no-driving zone or if your employees are currently in a no-driving zone, it is illegal to have them come to work,” Poloncarz said. on line.

The snowstorm, which came with a forecast for the Buffalo area not seen in more than 20 years, made commuting miserable for many drivers, despite authorities’ emphasis on staying out roads.

A loader digs a parking lot in Hamburg, New York, on Friday after an intense lake-effect snowstorm dumped several feet of snow around Buffalo and surrounding suburbs.

“I can say that our deputies have been absolutely inundated with calls for service in regards to disabled motor vehicles and stranded motorists,” Erie County Deputy Sheriff William J. Cooley said during the interview. a press conference on Friday evening. “We implore residents to just please obey the travel ban, you very quickly become part of the problem when you are on the streets.”

Erie County issued a combination of travel bans and travel warnings on Friday, including a travel ban for the southern part of Buffalo.

More than 300 citations have been issued to drivers who violated the travel ban, Poloncarz said late Friday.

“Please don’t be the reason an ambulance can’t get to the hospital,” he said. “There are many vehicles that not only get stuck, but are simply abandoned by owners.”

Heather Ahmed uses a shovel to dig a path beside a vehicle after an intense lake-effect snowstorm hit the area Friday in Hamburg, New York.

The snow has long been falling at a rapid pace, making it difficult for crews to respond.

“In some cases, we’re going to be well over 5 feet of snow and that in a 21-hour period,” said county public works commissioner Bill Geary. “That’s a remarkable amount of time.”


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