Within the Buffalo, NY space, the loss of life toll from winter storms rises to 25 as residents stay trapped beneath the ft of snow


At least 25 people have died in Erie County, New York, as a result of a massive winter storm that has devastated much of the U.S. in recent days, county officials said Monday, raising the statewide death toll to 47.

The updated death toll in Erie County, which includes the city of Buffalo, comes as parts of western New York remain buried by up to 43 inches of snow, leaving vehicles stranded for thousands during the Christmas holiday, just a month later and fail The region was hit by a historic snowstorm.

“This is a terrible situation,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a news conference, noting that officials expect between 8 and 12 inches of snow to fall between Monday morning and 1 p.m. Tuesday. “That’s not helpful as we’re trying to recover and clear roads and get into areas that haven’t been plowed yet,” he said.

While driving bans have been lifted in some communities, such a ban remains in effect in Buffalo, Poloncarz said, describing the city as “impassable in most areas,” with abandoned cars, trucks and vehicles scattered throughout. Separately, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia urged residents to stay home, he told CNN, to keep the streets clear for emergency responders.

Even rescue and recovery vehicles sent to help got stuck in the snow as rescue workers and hundreds of snowplough drivers fanned out on Christmas Day. Eleven abandoned ambulances were dug up on Sunday, officials said.

See houses frozen over by a massive winter storm


– Source: CNN

“We had to send specialized rescue teams to get rescuers,” Poloncarz told CNN This Morning on Monday, adding that it was the worst storm he could remember. “It was just horrific, and it was horrible 24 hours straight.”

“We’re used to snow here, we can handle snow,” he said. “But with the wind, the blinding views – it was total whiteouts – and the extreme cold, it was some of the worst conditions we’ve seen.”

Many of New York’s weather-related deaths occurred in Erie County, where Some people died from exposure or from heart disease while shoveling or blowing snow, Poloncarz said in the news conference, citing the findings from the county’s office of medical examiner.

A man clears snow from the front of his home on Sunday, December 25, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.

The storm has drawn widespread comparisons to Buffalo’s famous 1977 blizzard. Poloncarz said in Monday’s press conference that the ferocity of the current storm is “worse than the 1977 blizzard.” And in a news conference on Sunday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the current storm the “most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long history.”

Hundreds of National Guardsmen were deployed to help with the New York rescue effort. State police were involved in over 500 rescue operations including the birth of a baby as of Sunday, Hochul said.

“We are still in the middle of this very dangerous, life-threatening situation,” Hochul said. Asking residents to avoid the streets. “Our state and county level plows have been out there non-stop, giving up time and putting themselves at risk driving through blinding snowstorms to clear the roads,” Hochul said.

As blustery snowstorms swept across the region, Poloncarz described the frightening conditions on the road.

“Think of staring at a white sheet just a few feet in front of you for more than 24 hours straight. That’s how it was outside in the worst conditions,” he said. “It was a constant snowstorm and whiteouts so no one could see where they were going. Nobody had any idea what had happened.”

While abandoned vehicles line the snow-covered streets — with hundreds of cars still on Buffalo’s streets — conditions are difficult indoors, too.

Some residents have stayed in their homes for more than two days, some without electricity in the freezing cold, Hochul said during her press conference. This is not due to a lack of resources, said the governor, but to one thing Mobility and Access Challenges for Utilities.

As of Sunday evening, power was restored to 94.5% of Erie County residents and 87% of Buffalo residents, Hochul said.

Even so, 12,000 homes and businesses in Erie County were without power as of Sunday night, and many will have no lights or heat through Tuesday, Poloncarz said.

Buffalo will continue to experience snowfall and freezing temperatures Monday, with a daytime high of 23 degrees and a nighttime low of 21 degrees expected, according to the National Weather Service.

For the past week, the ongoing winter storm has blanketed much of the US with dangerously low temperatures and wind chills, also bringing widespread power outages and thousands of canceled flights.

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

Freezing temperatures where temperatures will hover in the teens and low 20s are expected in affected areas, potentially killing crops and damaging pipelines. Most of these warnings will expire Monday morning when temperatures finally recover from the polar air.

About 65,000 customers nationwide were without power as of early Monday, according to PowerOutage.US. Since the storm began, the number of outages has at times exceeded one million customers.

Electricity wasn’t the only utility affected: Jackson, Mississippi, issued a water-boiling notice Sunday after its water system lost pressure due to line ruptures that were “likely caused by the weather,” officials said on Facebook. The city, which only two months ago recovered from a separate protracted water crisis, distributed water to residents throughout Christmas Day.

The storm also disrupted US travel during the busy holiday weekend, with more than 5,000 canceled flights on Friday, more than 3,400 canceled on Saturday and more than 3,100 canceled for Christmas Day. As of 1:00 p.m. ET Monday, nearly 2,500 flights within, to or from the United States had already been canceled, according to tracking site FlightAware.

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

Multiple storm-related deaths have been reported in several states since the brutal weather arrived. In addition to the deaths in New York, the fatalities include:

Colorado: Police in Colorado Springs, Colo., have reported two cold-related deaths since Thursday, with a man found near a building’s power transformer who may have been searching for heat, and another in a warehouse in an alley.

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

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

Missouri: One person died after a trailer rolled off an icy road into a frozen creek, Kansas City Police Department said.

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

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

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported one fatal accident Thursday due to winter weather.

• Vermont: A woman in Castleton died after a tree fell on her home, according to the chief of the Castleton Police Department.

High winds and snow blanket roads and vehicles in Buffalo on Sunday, December 25, 2022.

The mighty system moves farther from the northeast, but many cities and towns remain covered in thick snow. Over a 24-hour period, Baraga, Michigan received 42.8 inches of snow while Watertown, New York received 34.2 inches.

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

Winter storm warnings remain in effect in New York for Buffalo, Jamestown and Watertown and will expire in the following days. Forecasts show Jamestown could see an additional 8 inches of snow, Buffalo could see an additional 14 inches, and Watertown could see an additional 3 feet. Winds can also get up to 40 km/h.

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

Persistent lake-effect snow blowing downwind from the Great Lakes is slowly becoming less intense, but the Arctic air blanketing much of the eastern half of the country will be slow to moderate, according to the National Weather Service.

Lake effect snow will continue to make for dangerous travel conditions over the next few days and conditions are expected to slowly improve as the week progresses.

The low system is forecast to move further into Canada, while another system will move quickly across the northern US through Monday, bringing snow from the northern plains through the Midwest.

Much of the rest of the eastern part of the country will remain frozen through Monday, before starting a weakening trend on Tuesday, forecasters said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct where Gov. Kathy Hochul called the storm the “most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long history.” It was at a press conference on Sunday.

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