New York Daily News: The death toll from the treacherous blizzard that hit the city of Buffalo, N.Y. over the holiday weekend has risen to 27 across the western N.Y. region, authorities said Monday.
That number is likely to rise in the coming days, as thousands of homes and businesses across the area remain without power.
Rescue and recovery efforts continue, with emergency crews digging out the area after one of its worst weather-related disasters ever.
Drivers were left stranded in their cars, and some residents were forced to wait for help inside their homes, frigid due to lack of power, as the prolonged winter storm pounded the region on Friday and Saturday.
The conditions made roads unnavigable, preventing emergency crews from reaching some residents or drivers.
Some of the dead were found inside their homes, while others died inside their vehicles. There are also reports of people who died while shoveling snow.
“We know there are people who have been stuck in cars for more than two days,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters Sunday. “There are people in homes who are below freezing temperatures.”
Lake effect snow — which happens when cold air originating from Canada moves across theGreat Lakes — should continue through Tuesday, the National Weather Service Buffalo said in a statement early Monday morning.
As of 8 a.m. Monday, forecasters had measured 49 inches at Buffalo Niagara International Airport — but more snow is expected over the next few hours.
“Additional accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are expected off Lake Erie in and near Buffalo, and 1 to 2 feet for Jefferson and northern Lewis counties,” the NWS said.
The snow will fall in two different batches, “but will be pretty fluffy” Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the NWS at the airport, told Buffalo News. “And no wind.”
“This will go down in history as the most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long storied history of having battled many battles, many, many major storms,” Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, said in a news briefing on Monday.
“This is a war with mother nature, and she has been hitting us with everything she has since the late hours of Thursday into Friday, Saturday and now on Christmas morning,” she added.
Across the country, the massive winter storm that affected much of the country over the holiday weekend has been linked to at least 48 deaths.