A dangerous lake-effect blizzard paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, with about a foot of snow on the ground in some places by early afternoon. The storm was blamed for the deaths of two people who were struck while clearing snow.
The severity of the storm varied widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by icy winds that suck up moisture from the warmer lakes and dump snow in narrow bands.
Residents in some parts of Buffalo awoke to blowing, heavy snow interrupted by occasional thunderstorms, while just a few miles to the north, overnight snowfall had decreased and there were patches of blue skies.
The worst snowfall so far was south of the city. The U.S. National Weather Service reported a daily total of 61 inches of snow in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with bands of heavier precipitation bringing more than 102 inches in the Buffalo suburbs of Orchard Park and Hamburg, NY, where rescue crews were called upon to help a resident whose house was giving way under the weight.
Schools, Amtrak stations closed
Schools were closed. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew are closed Thursday and remain closed Friday.
Numerous flights to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.
The storm was blamed for two deaths, said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, tweeting that they were “associated with cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snowblowing.”
“We extend 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 it would move the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday home game against the Cleveland Browns from Orchard Park stadium to Detroit.
A day later, the Bills tweeted photos of Highmark Stadium showing the playing field and more than 60,000 seats virtually buried under snow, and forecasters warned of about another foot or more by Sunday.
Scott Fleetwood of West Seneca, NY, captured video of lightning crashing outside his house throughout the night, as well as snow quickly burying the pumpkins on his front porch.
“The sky is white… Everything is white. All 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 outside for much of the day and was nervous about the road conditions.
“At the moment it looks very bad,” she said.
With countless cars stuck and abandoned, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown urged people to stay off the roads in hard-hit south Buffalo, where additional city and private crews were deployed to clear snow-clogged neighborhood streets. to release.
Meanwhile, downtown and northern Buffalo streets were cleared, but virtually traffic-free by Friday afternoon.
State of emergency declared in 11 provinces
New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday declared a state of emergency for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The statement covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic banned on a stretch of Interstate 90.
Poloncarz, the Erie County executive, issued a driving ban beginning Thursday night, though it was downgraded to an advisory for most of the city of Buffalo on Friday.
The weather service also warned of accumulations of about two feet 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 also saw accumulations of lake-effect snow.
Fort Drum, New York, near the shore of Lake Ontario, saw more than a foot of snow, the National Weather Service reported Friday.
In southwestern Michigan, state police reported a pileup of 20 to 25 vehicles on US 131 in Kalamazoo County. No serious injuries were reported.
Freeway jam in Michigan
Buffalo has experienced dramatic lake-effect blizzards, little worse than the one in November 2014. That epic storm dumped six feet of snow on some communities in three days, collapsed roofs and trapped motorists in more than 100 vehicles on a stretch along Thruway State Lake in New York.
Registered nurse Mary Ann Murphy recalled trudging to Mercy Hospital on foot, her husband, Steve, by her side during the 2014 storm. The memory made both especially happy that she was able to drive to work on Friday.
“I just blasted it down the street in my little SUV,” says Murphy, who lives about a mile from Buffalo Hospital. “I was just glad I didn’t have to walk.”
Maternal childcare director Murphy said some of her co-workers would have preferred to spend the night rather than risk a treacherous commute. They expected to deliver eight babies on Friday.