Buffalo slammed with lake effect snow as storm hits parts of New York state hard


A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, with about a meter of snow already on the ground in some places by early afternoon. The storm was blamed for the deaths of two people hit while clearing snow.

The severity of the storm varied widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by freezing winds picking up moisture from warmer lakes and dumping snow in narrow bands.

Residents in parts of Buffalo woke up to heavy snow, punctuated by occasional thunder, while a few miles north less snow fell overnight and there were patches of blue skies.

The worst snowfall so far occurred south of the city. The US National Weather Service reported single-day snowfall totals of 61 centimeters in many locations along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with heavier bands of precipitation bringing more than 102 centimeters to suburban Buffalo. from Orchard Park and Hamburg, NY, where emergency crews were called to help a resident whose home caved in under the weight.

Schools and Amtrak Stations Closed

Schools have been closed. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday.

Many flights to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport have been canceled.

The storm was blamed for two deaths, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, tweeting that they were « associated with exertional cardiac events during snow shoveling/blowing. »

« We send our deepest condolences and remind everyone that this snow is very heavy and dangerous, » he said.

Even before the snow started to fall, the NFL announced that it would move the Buffalo Bills’ home game against the Cleveland Browns from its Orchard Park stadium in Detroit.

A day later, the Bills tweeted photos from Highmark Stadium showing the playing field and its more than 60,000 seats virtually buried in snow, and forecasters warned of about another 12 inches or more by Sunday.

Scott Fleetwood of West Seneca, NY, captured video of lightning crashing in front of his house throughout the night, as well as snow quickly burying pumpkins on his porch.

« The sky is white… Everything is white. The only thing you can really see is the house across the street, » he said.

Not a good day for drivers

Zaria Black of Buffalo cleared snow from her car Friday morning as she prepared to go to work.

The Amazon employee expected to be out most of the day and was nervous about road conditions.

« Right now it’s looking pretty bad, » she said.

Robert Skimin is seen on an ATV, trying to dig through a pile of snow in Hamburg, NY on Friday. (John Normile/Getty Images)

With many cars stranded and abandoned, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown urged people to stay off the roads in hard-hit South Buffalo, where additional city and private plows have been deployed to open the roads. streets of the neighborhood cluttered with snow.

Meanwhile, downtown and north Buffalo streets had been cleared but were virtually empty of traffic Friday afternoon.

Emergency declared in 11 counties

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

The declaration covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic prohibited on a stretch of Interstate 90.

A woman shovels a path alongside a vehicle in deep snow.
Heather Ahmed tries to make her way through the snow in Hamburg on Friday. (John Normile/Getty Images)

Poloncarz, the Erie County executive, issued a driving ban starting Thursday night, though it was downgraded to a notice for most of the city of Buffalo on Friday.

The weather service also warned of accumulations of about 60 centimeters or more of snow in northern New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and parts of northern Michigan through Sunday. Parts of Pennsylvania were also seeing lake-effect snow accumulations.

Fort Drum, New York, near the shore of Lake Ontario, saw more than a meter of snow, the National Weather Service reported Friday.

In southwest Michigan, state police reported a 20-25 vehicle pileup on US 131 in Kalamazoo County. No serious injuries were reported.

Highway buildup in Michigan

People walk on a snowy university campus.  There is a large clock tower in the background.
On Friday, students walk through the snow on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. (Joel Bissell/The Grand Rapids Press/The Associated Press)

Buffalo has experienced dramatic lake-effect snowstorms, only slightly worse than the one that hit in November 2014. This epic storm dumped two meters of snow on some communities in three days, collapsing roofs and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles on a stretch by the lake. from the New York State Highway.

Registered nurse Mary Ann Murphy recalled walking to Mercy Hospital with her husband, Steve, by her side during the 2014 storm. The memory made the two especially happy that she was able to drive to work on Friday.

« I just pulled him down the street in my little SUV, » said Murphy, who lives about a mile from Buffalo Hospital. « I was just thrilled that I didn’t have to walk. »

Director of Mother-Child Services Murphy said some of her colleagues stayed overnight rather than risk a treacherous ride. They expected to deliver eight babies on Friday.


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