Snow wreaks mobility havoc in western New York

(CNN) — Heavy snow is expected to continue to accumulate in western New York state through Sunday after a historic storm sent the Buffalo area to record snowfall totaling more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) in some areas.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service in Buffalo issued a special statement warning that a band of heavy snow accompanied by high winds was creating a “snow outburst” in western New York state. The band was moving south of the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan areas, the weather service said.

“This heavy snow band produces extremely heavy snowfall at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour,” he said. “Be very careful if you must travel… Rapid changes in visibility and potentially slippery roads can lead to accidents.”

While the Buffalo area is used to dealing with heavy snowfall, this storm has delivered “a lot more than we usually get,” Mayor Byron Brown told CNN on Saturday.

Erie County, which includes Buffalo, saw the most snow in a 24-hour period on Saturday, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Since the snow began, two people have died from heart complications related to shoveling snow and trying to clear the ground, he said.

As the heaviest snow slid south of the Buffalo metropolitan area into southern Erie and Chautauqua counties overnight, an additional 6 to 18 inches (1.8 to 5.4 meters) is possible in the region, especially on higher ground, said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

By this Sunday morning, the winds shifted more to the west, meaning the heaviest bands of lake-effect snow are now south of Buffalo, impacting areas from Cleveland to Dunkirk, New York. Buffalo is no longer under a lake-effect snow warning, but remains under a winter weather advisory through Sunday night for “blizzard snow,” according to the weather service.

The heaviest snowfall this Sunday will be east of Lake Ontario, where up to a foot of additional snow is forecast with localized areas that could see even more.

Winds could gust up to 45 mph (72.4 km/h) in the Great Lakes region, leading to very cold conditions with temperatures feeling in the single digits to slightly below freezing.

New York under alert for a powerful snowstorm 3:41

Record snowfall creates travel risk

Snowfall totals of more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) have been recorded in two locations, according to the weather service. Orchard Park, where the NFL’s Buffalo Bills play, had 77.0 inches (195 centimeters) in a 48-hour period, and Natural Bridge, just east of Watertown, had 72.3 inches (185 centimeters), all-time highs. for the area.

The multi-day weather event has hampered travel in the region, causing road closures, driving bans and flight cancellations the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday.

This Saturday night, the weather service warned that the latest band would worsen travel conditions in a matter of minutes.

Nearly 400 citations have been issued to drivers who violated travel bans in the region, said Poloncarz, the Erie County executive.

“If you try to enter an area where a travel ban is in place, you will be met by a friendly New York State Police officer who will immediately ticket you for violating the travel ban,” Poloncarz stated.

Authorities are assisting vehicles that are stuck on the side of the road or that have been involved in accidents due to people traveling during the blizzard, he said.

Air travelers haven’t fared much better, with dozens of flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport canceled as storm conditions worsen, according to the airport’s website.

The airport set a daily snowfall record of 54.6 centimeters (21.5 inches) on Saturday, breaking the previous daily record of 19.3 centimeters (7.6 inches) set in 2014, the local weather office said.

This ranks as the fifth-highest single-day snowfall total on record for Buffalo and the second-highest single-day snowfall total for the month of November.

This month marks the third snowiest November in Buffalo at the airport thanks to the storm, according to the local weather service office.

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Jenny Vega (left) and Roberto Rentas shovel snow in front of their Buffalo home on Friday. (Credit: Brendan Bannon/The New York Times/Redux)

Governor insists on preparation for storms

New York Governor Kathy Hochul praised the state’s storm preparedness Saturday afternoon, saying crews have worked tirelessly to manage the situation.

“This is the effort that we’ve put together: bringing in resources, people, equipment from all over New York State. And because we were so preemptive in this attack, we were able to prevent a lot of tragedies,” Hochul said.

He thanked western New Yorkers for closing major freeways, implementing travel bans and staying home before it started to snow, which helped prevent accidents, protect human life and ensure roads are safe and clear for services. emergency, he said.

Hochul said he will double the number of New York National Guardsmen in Erie County to monitor residents and help clear snow.

You will also sign an application for federal reimbursement through a Federal Disaster Emergency Declaration.

Nearly 6 million people in four Great Lakes states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York) got better under winter weather advisories for much of this Sunday.

Brown, the mayor of Buffalo, said the city could return to “some sense of normality” on Monday or Tuesday, assuming the worst of the storm passes until this Sunday.

“This has been a very unpredictable storm with bands of snow moving back and forth, north to south,” Brown said. “The snow has fallen very fast, very wet, very heavy.”

CNN meteorologists Haley Brink and Gene Norman and CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Aya Elamroussi and Mallika Kallingal contributed to this report.

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