BUFFALO — The city of Buffalo, where heavy snow is often met with a shrug and a shovel, woke up Saturday with chest-high drifts left behind by a lake-effect storm that pounded roads rough. Forecasters promised continued pummeling overnight.
Officials said the storm appeared to be dropping a record amount of snow for Erie County in a 24-hour period — sometimes up to six inches per hour, leaving more than 50, 60 and even 70 inches over the white area. The wind raged through the city corridors of Buffalo, picking up snow and throwing it aside wherever it chose. And in parts of the region south of the city, snowfall crept above six feet even as the storm moved north.
County officials said two people had died as a result of the storm. 280 people were rescued in the area, and some 1,600 were without power. The storm was also expected to strengthen and return later Saturday, dumping another six inches of snow or more.
The county’s previous record for snowfall in a 24-hour period, 47.5 inches, was set during a massive storm in 2014 that dropped more than 86 inches on its third day. The state’s overall record was set in 1966, when 50 inches fell in one day on Oneida County, according to the National Weather Service. Unconfirmed reports on Saturday suggested more than that amount fell in Orchard Park alone.
“We believe we’re going to make history with the most snowfall in a 24-hour period here in New York State,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference Saturday. “Never happened like this before.”
Alex Mayne, 26, took advantage of an afternoon break to try to free his car from a Hertel Avenue embankment and visit an elderly relative. Two neighbors arrived to help push — “Very Buffalo thing to do,” Mr. Mayne said.
South of the city, travel in the hardest-hit areas was nearly impossible as the storm threatened to upend Thanksgiving plans across the region.
Thomas Headon, 22, a musician from England, was traveling with nine other people from Boston to Chicago on Friday when the storm forced their tour bus to pull over at the side of the road in Orchard Park. (The Buffalo Bills, whose home stadium is in Orchard Park, had already moved their Sunday afternoon game to Detroit.).
Mr. Headon and his fellow travelers used a generator on the bus to keep warm at night, he said, but his scheduled Chicago show on Saturday was canceled, costing him thousands of dollars.
“We were all on the bus all night,” he said. “Stuck at the highway.”
But after loading up on food and beer at a nearby supermarket, the group would try to make it to Toronto for their next gig.
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat and resident of Buffalo, had already declared a state of emergency for 11 counties, including some bordering Lake Ontario in New York’s northern border with Canada, where the storm was also roaring. She was scheduled to appear at a press conference in Hamburg, a particularly hard-hit city about 15 miles south of downtown Buffalo, on Saturday afternoon.
Most businesses in Orchard Park remained closed on Saturday with deep snow in parking lots and entrances. Plows and backhoe loaders of all sizes were ubiquitous throughout the area, clearing roads as emergency and utility vehicles moved through the city.
Saturday afternoon, Greg Shiltz, 47, of Orchard Park, stood atop his red pickup and shoveled away several feet of snow after spending about four hours on Saturday digging out his driveway.
“I’m finally catching up,” he said.
“A lot of snow has fallen,” he added. “But it’s better than a tornado. It will eventually melt.”
The Monster Buffalo blizzard may have set a record. More is on the way. first appeared in the New York Times.