Days into a deadly winter storm that bedeviled much of the country, officials in Buffalo, New York, are focused on restoring power, plowing roads and checking homes and cars for anyone still stranded, with expectations more residents will be found dead.
In Buffalo, New York’s Erie County, at least 27 people have perished as a result of the storm, which dumped up to 43 inches of snow and caused blinding blizzard conditions over the Christmas holiday. Nine US states and at least 22 additional people have reported death from the storm.
According to flight tracking website FlightAware, the cold blast has also disrupted holiday travel, with nearly 2,800 flights into or out of US airports being canceled early Tuesday. About 2,500 of them are run by Southwest.
Meanwhile, Buffalo, the second-most populous city in New York, is still under a winter weather advisory until Tuesday afternoon. Up to 7 additional inches of snow are likely, and daytime highs of 30 degrees will drop to 26 degrees at night.
It has been said that the storm currently raging in Buffalo is more violent than the blizzard that struck the city in 1977 and killed 23 people. The weekend weather, according to Mark Poloncarz, executive of Erie County, “was really horrible.” And it was terrible for 24 straight hours.
Tom Sater confirmed that 37.5 hours of blizzard conditions had been documented and noted, “That just doesn’t happen.”
Buffalo is “impassable in most sections” due to snow, according to Poloncarz, with even rescue and emergency vehicles getting trapped.
According to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the situation improved on Monday, making it simpler for rescue teams to reach hundreds of people who were left stranded. According to him, some of these individuals “may not have lived in some of these instances if it weren’t for the efforts of first responders to rescue them from vehicles.”
Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli of the New York State Police reported that hundreds of automobiles had been left in Buffalo’s snowy streets. He claimed that authorities were searching every door and every automobile for people.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, emphasized the significance of observing regional and state traffic restrictions in Western New York while teams of workers continue to extricate vehicles trapped in snow on roads and highways. Driving bans in Buffalo, Lackawant to, and Cheektowaga all remained in effect throughout the night.
Hochul stated at a news conference on Monday, “We have scores and scores of vehicles that were abandoned when people evacuated after the storm. “It’s still unsafe to be outside.”
While other recorded deaths in Erie County involved people who were outside, in automobiles, had no heating, or experienced cardiac arrest, three of them were due to EMS delays.
And according to officials, the number of fatalities will likely climb.
Law enforcement planned to give welfare checks a priority once the roads were cleared, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said on Monday.
“That makes me feel uneasy, the number of fatalities is certain to increase. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching when 420 EMS calls go unanswered, the sheriff said as his crew prepared to assist in getting “people to doctors, nurses, and hospitals.”
Less than 10,000 Buffalo customers were without power as of Monday, according to Brown. The work of turning the lights back on, however has not been simple due to hazardous weather conditions that make it challenging for utility crews to access the substations, according to Hochul.
Supermarkets in western New York started to reopen on Monday, and more were anticipated to do so on Tuesday.
Although traffic conditions are hampering relief operations, the state has a supply of ready-to-eat meals that will be given in their hundreds to food banks, Hochul said on Monday.
“Having all of these materials available is our obligation. That is the immobility we’re experiencing, Hochul said. “However, when Mother Nature really closes down and builds a wall that you cannot see past, it is not safe, not just for emergency vehicles but also for the trucks bringing food to the stores and the businesses are being shut down nonetheless.
The governor asked President Joe Biden to issue a federal emergency designation for the counties of Erie and Genesee, which, according to the governor, “will be critical to support our recovery efforts from this historic storm.”
According to the National Weather Service, Buffalo recorded the snowiest start to a winter season ever with 92.7 inches of measurable snowfall from October through Christmas Day. The area was hit with an epic snowstorm just one month prior to the most recent storm. And with the additional 6.3 inches that fell on Monday, the city is currently just shy of 100 inches.
The governor requested that President Joe Biden declare the counties of Erie and Genesee to be under a federal state of emergency because it “will be crucial to support our recovery efforts from this historic storm.”
With 92.7 inches of measurable snowfall through Christmas Day, Buffalo had the snowiest start to a winter season ever, according to the National Weather Service. Just one month prior to the most recent storm, the region was hit by an enormous snowstorm. And the city is currently just short of 100 inches after the additional 6.3 inches that dropped on Monday.
Nationwide death toll is 49
At least 49 storm-related deaths have been reported across several states:
• New York: In addition to the 27 deaths in Erie County, one fatal carbon monoxide poisoning has been reported in Niagara County.
• Colorado: Police in Colorado Springs reported two deaths related to the cold since Thursday, with one man found near a power transformer of a building, possibly seeking warmth, and another in a camp in an alleyway.
• Kansas: Three people have died in weather-related traffic accidents, the Highway Patrol said Friday.
• Kentucky: Three people have died, officials have said, including one involving a vehicle crash in Montgomery County.
• Missouri: One person died after a van slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek, Kansas City police said.
• Ohio: Nine people have died as a result of weather-related auto crashes, including four in a Saturday morning crash on Interstate 75, when a tractor-trailer crossed the median and collided with an SUV and a pickup, authorities said.
• Tennessee: The Department of Health on Friday confirmed one storm-related fatality.
• Wisconsin: The State Patrol on Thursday reported one fatal crash due to winter weather.
• Vermont: One woman in Castleton died after a tree fell on her home, according to the police chief.