Parts of western New York have received up to 43 inches of snow, leaving many without power over the Christmas weekend as a powerful winter storm continues to batter much of the US with terrible winter weather that has already claimed at least 37 lives countrywide.
The storm is the “most damaging storm in Buffalo’s long and storied history,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul told our channel. As of Sunday night, at least 17 people had died across the state as a result of the extreme snowfall and blizzard conditions that rendered highways inaccessible with little visibility, froze power substations, and rendered roadways impassable.
Just one month after the area was hit with a massive snowstorm, Western New York is currently drowning in thick “lakeshore effect” snow, which accumulates when cold air flows over the warm waters of the Great Lakes. On Christmas Day, hundreds of plow drivers and rescue teams spread out, but even the emergency and recovery trucks sent out to assist became mired in the snow. On Sunday, authorities reported finding 11 abandoned ambulances.
The worst storm he could recall, says Mark Poloncarz, “We had to deploy specialized rescue squads to go fetch the rescuers.” “It was just horrifying, and it was horrifying for a full day.” He remarked, “We can manage the snow; we’re used to it here.” But because of the wind, the complete whiteout, and the bitter cold, it was among the worst conditions any of us had ever experienced.
The majority of the fatalities brought on by the weather in New York occurred in Erie County, where several victims were discovered in cars and on the ground in snowbanks, according to Poloncarz’s report on Sunday. According to a statement from Buffalo Police, deaths in the city are “persons found outside and in cars.”
To aid in the rescue attempts in New York, hundreds of National Guard soldiers have been sent to the city. A baby was delivered, and a guy with 4% of his mechanical heart left was helped by state police in over 500 rescues by Sunday, the governor reported.
Hochul urged locals to avoid the roads as the driving prohibition in Erie County is still in effect through Monday, saying, “We’re still in the midst of this incredibly dangerous and life-threatening scenario.”
To clear the roads, Hochul stated, “Our state and county plows have been out there constantly, giving up time and putting themselves in danger.” About 500 drivers were left stuck in their cars Friday night into Saturday morning as a scorching blizzard blasted the area, according to Poloncarz, who described terrifying conditions on the roads.
“Imagine staring at a white sheet for more than a day straight, with only a few feet in front of you. That’s how the worst weather conditions were outside, he claimed. No one could see where they were going due to the constant blizzards and whiteouts. No one understood what was taking place. Hundreds of automobiles are still parked along Buffalo’s streets, and there are many abandoned cars littering the snow-covered roads there. However, circumstances inside residences are equally poor.
According to Hochul, some residents have been in their homes for the past 56 hours, some of them in the bitter cold without power. The governor explained that this isn’t because of a lack of resources, but rather a problem with utility companies’ access and mobility. Again Hochul explains, as of Sunday night, 94.5% of Erie County residents and 87% of Buffalo residents had their electricity back.
Nevertheless, 12,000 homes and businesses in Erie County were without electricity as of Sunday evening, and many won’t have lights and heating until Tuesday, according to Poloncarz.
The National Weather Service predicts that Buffalo will continue to experience snowfall and bitterly cold temperatures on Monday, with a high of 23 degrees during the day and a low of 21 degrees at night.
The protracted winter storm during the past week has blanketed a sizable portion of the US with dangerously low temperatures and wind chills, along with extensive power disruptions and thousands of canceled flights. Residents of Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham were among the more than 10 million people who were still under freeze alerts on Monday throughout the South.
What to anticipate as the storm departs
While the strong system keeps moving away from the Northeast, many cities and towns are still completely covered with snow. Baraga, Michigan, had 42.8 inches of snow in 24 hours, whereas Watertown, New York, received 34.2 inches.
Conforming to the National Weather Service, Christmas Eve in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had a record 10.5 inches of snowfall.
The next several days will see the expiration of the winter storm warnings that are still in place in New York for Buffalo, Jamestown, and Watertown. According to forecasts, Watertown could receive another 3 feet of snow, Buffalo another 14 inches, and Jamestown another 8 inches. 40 mph wind gusts are also possible. North of Jamestown, where up to 18 inches of snow are anticipated, there are still lake effect snow warnings in effect as of Tuesday morning Eastern Standard Time.
Based on the National Weather Service, lingering lake-effect snows blowing downwind from the Great Lakes will gradually become less strong while the Arctic air blanketing much of the eastern half of the country will take time to soften.
For the upcoming several days, lake-effect snows will continue to make travel conditions problematic, but things should gradually get better over the week.
A second low-pressure system is expected to travel quickly across the northern US on Monday, bringing snow from the northern Plains through the Midwest, while the original low-pressure system is expected
to move farther away into Canada. According to experts, much of the rest of the eastern section of the country will remain in a deep freeze through Monday before a softening trend begins on Tuesday.