Dangerous lake-effect snow paralyzes parts of New York state

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, dumping over 4 feet in some places, with more expected to fall overnight through Saturday. The storm was blamed for the deaths of two people who died while clearing snow.

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

Residents in some parts of Buffalo spent Friday in torrential downpours punctuated by the occasional thunderclap, while just a few miles north fell just inches and showed patches of blue sky.

The heaviest snowfall was south of the city. The National Weather Service reported 3 feet (1 meter) in one day at many locations along the east end of Lake Erie, with bands of heavier precipitation measuring 66 inches (168 centimeters) in Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, 48 inches (48 inches). ) brought. 122 centimeters) in Elma and more than 3 feet in Hamburg, where rescue workers were called to help a resident whose home collapsed under the weight.

schools were closed. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Depew are closed Thursdays and Fridays. Numerous 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 cardiac events related to shoveling/snowblowing exertion.”

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

As of Friday afternoon, AAA tow truck drivers were struggling to reach dozens of stranded drivers who were defying travel bans and advice, association spokeswoman Elizebeth Carey said.

“AAA crews were trying to reach people who had called saying they had broken down or were stranded or their vehicle went off the road. … Many of our tow truck drivers kept calling and saying that “the police turned me away,” she said. In some cases, tow trucks followed behind enlisted payloads to clear the way. The AAA gave the locations of other drivers to the police.

Even before the snow fell, the NFL announced it would move Sunday’s home game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns from the team’s Orchard Park stadium to Detroit.

A day later, the Bills tweeted photos of Highmark Stadium showing the field and its 60,000-plus seats practically buried in snow, and forecasters warned of an extra foot or more by Sunday.

Scott Fleetwood of West Seneca captured video of lightning striking outside his home and snow quickly burying the pumpkins on his porch throughout the night.

“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, moved several inches from her car on Friday morning as she prepared to head to work. The Amazon employee expected to be outside most of the day and was nervous about the road conditions.

“It’s looking pretty bad right now,” she said.

With numerous cars stuck and abandoned, Mayor Byron Brown urged people to stay off roads in hard-hit southern Buffalo, where additional municipal and private plows were deployed.

“When the snow falls between 3 and 4.5 inches per hour, you can’t beat it,” he warned motorists at a news conference. “You will get stuck.”

Meanwhile, streets in downtown and north Buffalo had been cleared, but were virtually free of traffic as of Friday afternoon. Buffalo resident David Munschauer was aware of the wildly contrasting scenes as he walked around.

“I’m 68 and I’ve probably lived in this town 60 out of 68 and it never ceases to amaze me,” he said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday declared a state of emergency for parts of western New York, including communities on the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The statement applies to 11 counties, with all vehicles banned on one section of Interstate 90.

“I’m so proud of western New Yorkers for heeding our call to stay off the streets last night. it was treacherous,” Hochul told radio station WBEN. “And that’s allowed us to salt, clear the streets better than if they were full of traffic, and we’ve avoided a lot of accidents, really.”

Catholic Health, which runs several health facilities in the storm zone, has been preparing for days.

“Our staff have really stepped up and people have made every effort to get in where they can. Some employees are spending the night here,” spokeswoman JoAnn Cavanaugh said. “We’ve made sure our supplies are stocked — groceries and things for our patients and staff.”

Heavy snow accumulations were also reported in northern New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and parts of northern Michigan. Parts of Pennsylvania also saw accumulations of lake-effect snow.

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

In southwest Michigan, state police reported a pile-up of 20 to 25 vehicles on US 131 in Kalamazoo County. No serious injuries were reported.

“Roads still icy, muddy, we have to slow down,” police said on Twitter.

Buffalo has experienced dramatic lake-effect snowstorms, only a few worse than the one that struck in November 2014. This epic storm dumped 7 feet (2 meters) of snow over three days on some communities, collapsing roofs and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles on a lake stretch of the New York State Thruway.

Registered Nurse Mary Ann Murphy recalled trudging on foot to Mercy Hospital in the 2014 storm, husband Steve at her side. The memory made both of them especially happy that they were able to drive to work on Friday despite about 2 feet of snow.

“I just shot it 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.”

Friday’s snow also reminded Bruce Leader of the 2014 storm, dubbed “Snow-vember,” which, like this week’s storm, also buried some parts of the region while others saw just inches.

“I was driving back and forth to work in Niagara County and I was scratching my head, like, ‘What’s all the fuss about?'” he said of the 2014 event. “And down there my friends say, ‘Here’s the fuss,’ and send me photos. And they did the same this morning.”

https://wgntv.com/news/dangerous-lake-effect-snow-paralyzes-parts-of-new-york-state/ Dangerous lake-effect snow paralyzes parts of New York state

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