Residents of Buffalo and western New York woke up Saturday to several feet of snow in a relentless winter storm that left two people dead and paralyzed much of the area with road closures and flight cancellations.
According to the National Weather Service, bands of heavy snow winding over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario continued to hit the region, bringing snowfalls of up to three inches an hour. heavy snowfall, considered historic for the areait was supposed to last all weekend with a few moments of relief.
By Friday night, suburban Orchard Park, home of the Buffalo Bills, had fallen more than five feet of snow. According to to the National Meteorological Service. Large Hamburg suburbs south of Buffalo recorded more than four feet, while areas north of Buffalo received less snowfall.
The storm began on Wednesday evening with a mix of precipitation, which quickly developed into an all-out snowstorm on Thursday. The severity of the storm varied due to the quirks of lake effect thunderstorms, which are caused by icy winds picking up moisture from warmer lakes.
As the snowfall intensified, two Erie County residents died of heart complications from shoveling snow and trying to clear their property, said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
“We send our deepest sympathy and remind everyone that this snow is very heavy and dangerous.” Poloncarz wrote on Twitter. “Please continue to avoid shoveling this very heavy, wet snow – and be careful and avoid overexertion if you must shovel today.”
Winter weather warnings were in place across all Great Lakes states, from New York to Wisconsin.
Governor Hochul declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon and announced that the New York State Thruway would be closed to commercial traffic from Rochester to the Pennsylvania border from Thursday afternoon. The storm, bringing with it a blizzard, made travel and commuting almost impossible.
Additional snowfall of 8 to 12 inches or more was expected in the Buffalo and Watertown metropolitan areas, according to the National Weather Service.
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