Winter storm leaves at least 37 dead nationwide as residents in western New York remain trapped under feet of snow


As a massive winter storm continues to blast much of the United States with brutal winter weather – resulting in at least 37 deaths across the country – up to 43 inches of snow has been dumped in parts of western New -York, leaving vehicles stranded and power out for thousands throughout the year. Christmas weekend.

Kathy Hochul told CNN the storm was the “most destructive storm in Buffalo’s long history.” The heavy snowfall and blizzard made roads impassable with no visibility, froze power substations and left at least 17 people across the state. dead Sunday night.

Western New York is inundated with thick “lake effect” snow – created when cold air moves over the warm waters of the Great Lakes – just one month after the region was hit by a historic blizzard.

As rescue crews and hundreds of plow drivers went out on Christmas Day, even emergency and rescue vehicles were sent out to help those stuck in the snow. Eleven ambulances that had to be abandoned were abandoned on Sunday, officials said.

“The rescue team was rescuing rescuers … it was so horrible,” Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said during a news conference Sunday. Many of the weather-related deaths in New York were in Erie County, where several people were found dead in cars and on the street in snowbanks, he said.

The deaths reported in Buffalo “people are found outside and in cars,” read a statement from Buffalo Police.

Hundreds of National Guard troops have been deployed to aid rescue efforts in New York. State police were involved in more than 500 rescues by Sunday, including delivering a baby and helping a man with 4% left on his mechanical heart, the governor said.

“We are still stuck in this dangerous and life-threatening situation,” said Hochul, urging residents to stay off the roads as a driving ban will remain in effect in Erie County until Monday.

A snowman clears the front of his home, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.

“Our state and county crews are out there, non-stop, putting in time and putting themselves at risk, driving through blizzards to clear the roads,” Hochul said.

As blizzard conditions swept the region, about 500 drivers found themselves stranded in their vehicles Friday night into Saturday morning, according to Poloncarz, who described terrifying road conditions.

“Imagine looking a few feet in front of you at a blank sheet of paper for more than 24 hours straight. That’s what it was like outside in the worst conditions,” he said. “It was constantly snowing and white sweat so no one could see where they were going. Nobody had any idea what was happening.”

While abandoned vehicles litter the snow-covered roads – with hundreds of cars still on Buffalo’s streets – conditions are difficult inside homes as well.

Some residents have remained in their homes for the past 56 hours, some without power in the freeze, Hochul said during the press conference. This is not due to a lack of resources, said the governor, but a mobility and access challenge facing utility companies.

Snow blankets a neighborhood, December 25, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.

As of Sunday afternoon, 94.5% of Erie County residents and 87% of Buffalo residents have had their power restored, Hochul said.

Still, 12,000 homes and businesses in Erie County were without power Sunday afternoon, and many lights and heating won’t be back on until Tuesday, Poloncarz said.

Buffalo will continue to experience snow and frigid temperatures Monday, with a high of 23 degrees expected during the day and a low of 18 at night, according to the National Weather Service.

Over the past week, a prolonged winter storm has blanketed much of the United States with dangerously low temperatures and wind chills, causing widespread power outages and thousands of flight cancellations.

More than 10 million people were under freeze warnings across the South Monday, including residents in Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.

Sub-freezing temperatures are expected throughout the affected areas, with temperatures in the twenties and low 20s, which could kill crops and damage plumbing. Most of these warnings are due to expire on Monday morning as temperatures begin to recover from the polar air.

Nationwide, about 90,000 customers were without power early Monday, according to PowerOutage.US. Since the start of the storm, the number of outages has exceeded one million customers at times.

The storm disrupted travel in the United States during the busy holiday weekend, with more than 5,000 flights canceled on Friday, more than 3,400 flights canceled on Saturday and more than 3,100 canceled for Christmas Day . At least 1,200 flights within, into or out of the US have already been canceled as of 4:00 a.m. ET Monday, according to the tracking site FlightAware.

Since the brutal weather arrived, many storm-related deaths have been reported across several states. In addition to the deaths in New York, the deaths include:

Colorado: Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, reported two cold-related deaths since Thursday, with one man found near a building’s power transformer possibly seeking warmth, and another in a sidewalk encampment.

Kansas: Three people have died in weather-related traffic accidents, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday.

Kentucky: Three people have died in the state, officials said, including one related to a vehicle accident in Montgomery County.

Missouri: One person died after a caravan slid off an icy road and into a frozen lake, Kansas City police said.

Ohio:​​​​Nine people have died as a result of weather-related auto crashes, including four in a crash Saturday morning on Interstate 75, when a tractor-trailer semi crossed the median and collided with an SUV and a pickup, the authorities said.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Health on Friday confirmed one storm death.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin State Patrol on Thursday reported one fatal crash due to winter weather.

High winds and snow cover the streets and vehicles in Buffalo, Sunday, December 25, 2022.

The powerful system that prompted storm warnings and winter weather continues to move away from the Northeast, but many cities and towns are still covered in thick snow. Over a 24-hour period, Baraga, Michigan, received 42.8 inches of snow and Watertown, New York, received 34.2 inches.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, had its snowiest Christmas Eve on record, receiving 10.5 inches on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Winter storm warnings are still in effect in New York for Buffalo, Jamestown and Watertown and will expire over the next few days. Forecasts show that Jamestown could see another 8 inches of snow, Buffalo could see another 14 inches and Watertown could see another 3 feet. Wind gusts up to 40 mph are also possible.

Lake effect snow warnings remain in place north of Jamestown until 10 a.m. EST Tuesday, area where up to 18 inches is possible.

Weak lake-effect snow blowing from the Great Lakes will be slow, but arctic air covering much of the eastern half of the nation will be slow to moderate, according to the National Weather Service.

Lake effect snow will continue to make for hazardous travel conditions for the next few days and conditions are expected to slowly improve during the week.

The low pressure system is forecast to move farther into Canada, and another system will quickly move across the northern US into Monday, bringing snow from the northern Plains through the Midwest.

Much of the rest of the eastern part of the country will remain in a deep freeze until Monday before a mild trend moves in on Tuesday, forecasters said.


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