Dangerous lake-effect storm paralyzes parts of New York state with more than 5 feet of snow

Michelle Kucalski digs her car after a severe blizzard with lake effect affected the area on November 18, 2022 in Hamburg, New York.

John Normile | beautiful pictures

A dangerous lake-effect blizzard crippled parts of western and northern New York on Friday, pouring more than 5 feet in some spots and many are expected to fall through the night. to Saturday. The storm was blamed for the deaths of two people while clearing snow.

The severity of storms varies widely due to the nature of lake effect storms, caused by cold winds that draw moisture from warmer lakes and dump snow in narrow bands.

Residents in parts of Buffalo spent Friday battered by heavy snow, gusts of wind and occasional thunder, while just a few miles north there was only a few inches of snowfall and patches of sky. green.

The heaviest snowfall is in the south of the city. The National Weather Service reported a total of 3 feet (1 meter) of rain for a day in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with larger bands of rain bringing 66 inches (168 cm) of rain. in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, 48 inches (122 cm) in Elma and over 3 feet in Hamburg, where rescue teams were called to help a resident whose home had buckled under the weight.

Schools have been closed. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew are closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Many flights to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport have been cancelled.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the storm resulted in the deaths of two people, writing on Twitter that they were “associated with exercise-related cardiovascular events while shoveling/ blowing snow.”

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

By Friday afternoon, AAA tractor-trailer drivers were having difficulty reaching the dozens of stranded drivers who had defied the ban and travel advice, association spokeswoman Elizebeth Carey said. know.

“AAA teams are trying to reach people who have called in saying they have broken down or stuck or have gone off the road in their vehicles. … Many of our truck drivers are calling constantly. The phone said ‘the police turned me down’. go,'” she said. In some cases, a crane truck followed the dump truck to clear the road. AAA has turned over the locations of other drivers to the police.

Denis Marszalkowski uses a snow blower to dig after a severe lake-effect blizzard affected the area on November 18, 2022 in Hamburg, New York.

John Normile | beautiful pictures

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

A day later, the Bills tweeted photos of Highmark Stadium showing the playground and its more than 60,000 seats mostly buried in snow, and weather forecasters warned of the possibility of further snow a foot or more on Sunday.

Scott Fleetwood of West Seneca captured video of lightning striking outside his home all night, as well as snow quickly burying the pumpkins on his front porch.

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

“My tiki bar is now an igloo,” he added.

Zaria Black of Buffalo got out of her car a few inches on Friday morning as she was getting ready for work. The Amazon employee assumed she would be outside for days and worried about road conditions.

“Right now, it looks pretty bad,” she said.

With many cars stranded and abandoned, Mayor Byron Brown urged people to stay off the roads south of Buffalo, which has been hit hard by many cities and private plows are deployed.

“When it’s snowing 3 to 4.5 inches an hour, you can’t get through,” he warned drivers at a news conference. “You will have troubles.”

Meanwhile, streets in downtown and north Buffalo were cleared but were mostly free of traffic Friday afternoon. Buffalo resident David Munschauer is well aware of the intensely contrasting scenes as he walks around.

“I’m 68, and I’ve lived in this town maybe 60 out of 68, and that always surprises me,” he said.

Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on 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 all vehicles banned on a section of Interstate 90.

“I’m so proud of the people of Western New York for heeding our call to stay out of the streets last night; what a betrayal,” Hochul told WBEN radio. “And as a result we were able to clear the road better than when it was busy and we actually avoided a large number of accidents.”

Catholic Health, which operates several health care facilities in the hurricane area, has been preparing for days.

“Our staff has really stepped up and everyone is trying their best to get in the position they can. Some associates are spending the night,” said spokesman JoAnn Cavanaugh. “We have made sure our supplies are stocked – food and supplies for our patients and associates.”

Heavy snow accumulation was also reported north of New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and in parts of northern Michigan. Parts of Pennsylvania are also seeing an accumulation of lake effect snow.

A snow cloud is seen crossing Lake Erie as severe winter weather hits Buffalo, New York, U.S., November 18, 2022.

Lindsay Dedario | Reuters

Fort Drum, New York, near Lake Ontario, saw 42 inches, the National Weather Service reported Friday.

In southwestern Michigan, state police reported 20 to 25 vehicles piled up on US 131 in Kalamazoo County. No serious injuries have been reported.

“Roads are still frozen, muddy, we have to slow down,” police wrote on Twitter.

Buffalo has experienced severe lake-effect blizzards, less severe than the one that occurred in November 2014. That ferocious storm dumped a 7-foot (2-meter) layer of snow. several communities for three days, collapsing roofs and trapping more than 100 motorists on a lakeside stretch of the New York Thruway.

Mary Ann Murphy, a registered nurse, recalls trudging to Mercy Hospital, her husband Steve at her side, during the 2014 storm. The memory made them both especially happy when she was able to drive away. did on Friday, even though the snow was about 2 feet thick.

“I drove it down the street in my small SUV,” said Murphy, who lives about a mile from the Buffalo hospital. “I’m just glad I don’t have to walk.”

Friday’s snow also reminded Bruce Leader of a 2014 storm, dubbed the “Snow-vember,” which, like this week’s storm, also left parts of the region buried while others Others can only see a few inches.

“I was driving back and forth to work to Niagara County and was scratching my head, like, ‘What’s the big fuss about?′,’ he said of the 2014 event, “And down there, you My friends were like, ‘This is commotion,’ sending me pictures. And they did the same thing this morning.”


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