Snow is expected to continue to pile up in western New York through Sunday, totaling more than 6 feet, after a historic storm drove record snowfall in some parts of the Buffalo region.
Just after 11 p.m. Saturday night, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Buffalo issued a special weather statement warning that a snow band with winds of up to 30 mph was producing a “blizzard “. It said the band was moving south of the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas.
“This snow patch is producing heavy snow at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour,” the NWS said. “If you must travel, use extreme caution … rapid changes in visibility and potentially slippery roads can lead to accidents.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN on Saturday that while the Buffalo area is used to dealing with heavy snow, the storm had “much more impact than we normally would.”
Erie County, which includes Buffalo, experienced its heaviest snowfall ever in a 24-hour period Saturday, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
He said two people have died from heart complications related to shoveling and clearing the ground since the snow began.
If the heaviest snow slides overnight from south of the greater Buffalo area into southern Erie and Chautauqua counties, the region could see another 6 to 18 snowfalls, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said. inches, especially in higher terrain.
Strong winds accompanying the approaching cold front will push the snow band further inland from Lakes Erie and Ontario into Sunday, he said.
Combined snowfall at both locations exceeded 6 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Orchard Park, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, had 77.0 inches of water in 48 hours, and the Natural Bridge, east of Watertown, had 72.3 inches of water — historic numbers for the area.
The multi-day event made travel in the area difficult, triggering road closures, driving bans and flight cancellations over the weekend leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Saturday night, the NWS warned that the latest band would make travel conditions severe within minutes.
“Strong lake effect snow has returned to the Buffalo office. Visibility has dropped to a few hundred feet and roads are covered in snow. Stay where you are for the next few hours if you can until this snow band is on its way to Boston Oscillations en route to mountains and southern regions,” NWS Buffalo says.
Erie County Executive Poloncarz said nearly 400 citations have been issued to drivers found violating the region’s travel ban.
“If you try to enter an area where there is a travel ban, you meet a friendly New York State Police officer who immediately gives you a ticket for violating the travel ban,” Poloncarz said.
He said authorities were towing vehicles that were stranded on the side of the road or involved in accidents due to people traveling during the snowstorm.
Air travelers weren’t faring much better, with dozens of flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport being canceled as the storm worsened, according to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport website.
the airport set up a Daily Snow Records The local weather service said 17.2 inches of rain fell on Saturday, breaking the previous daily record of 7.6 inches set in 2014.
This month is already the third snowiest November at Buffalo Airport due to the storm. local weather service office.
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul touted the state’s storm preparedness Saturday afternoon and said crews had been working tirelessly to prepare for the situation.
“This is the result of our joint efforts: bringing together resources, people and equipment from across New York State. Because we were so pre-emptive in this strike, we were able to avoid many tragedies,” Hochul said.
She thanked Western New Yorkers for closing major highways, enforcing travel bans and staying home until the snow started to fall, which helps prevent accidents, protects lives and keeps roads safe and clear for emergency services.
Hochul said she is doubling the number of New York National Guard members on the ground in Erie County to check on residents and help remove snow.
She also signed a request for federal reimbursement through the federal emergency disaster declaration.
Winter weather warnings remained in effect Saturday night for more than 8 million people in six states in the Great Lakes region: Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
Buffalo Mayor Brown said the city could return to “some sort of normality” on Monday or Tuesday, assuming the worst of the storm passes on Sunday.
“It’s a very unpredictable storm with snow bands moving back and forth from north to south,” Brown said. “The snow was falling fast, wet and thick.”