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Twelve Deaths Have Been Attributed to the Blizzard That Hit the Buffalo, New York, Area
December 25 (Reuters) – On Christmas Day, a deadly blizzard paralyzed Buffalo, New York, trapping motorists and rescue workers in their vehicles, knocking out power to thousands of homes, and raising the death toll from storms that had chilled much of the United States for days.
According to an NBC News tally, at least 30 people have died in weather-related accidents in the United States since a deep chill gripped most of the country, accompanied by snow, ice, and howling winds from a massive storm that roared out of the Great Lakes region on Friday.
Much of the death toll has been concentrated in and around Buffalo, New York, on the shores of Lake Erie, where biting cold and heavy “lake-effect” snow – the result of cool air flowing over warmer lake waters – has continued through the holiday weekend.
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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz stated on Sunday that the storm’s confirmed death toll had risen to 13, up from three reported overnight in the Buffalo area. According to Poloncarz, the latest casualties included those found in cars and others in snow banks, and the death toll is expected to grow further.
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“This is not the Christmas that any of us wished for or expected,” Poloncarz tweeted on Sunday. “Please accept my heartfelt sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul described the storm as an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather calamity, the hardest winter storm to hit the greater Buffalo area since a severe blizzard in 1977 that killed nearly 30 people. “We have now surpassed the scale of that storm, in terms of intensity, longevity, and the fury of its winds,” Hochul said at an evening news conference, adding that the current storm would likely be remembered as “the blizzard of ’22.”
The newest blizzard arrived nearly six weeks after a record-breaking but brief lake-effect storm hit western New York. Despite a road closure in effect since Friday, hundreds of Erie County motorists were trapped in their vehicles over the weekend, with National Guard troops called in to assist with rescues hampered by white-out conditions and drifting snow, according to Poloncarz.
Many snow plows and other pieces of equipment sent out on Saturday and Sunday became stranded in the snow, requiring “rescue missions to rescue the rescuers,” he told reporters. The Buffalo Police Department issued an online plea for public aid in search-and-recovery efforts, instructing people who “have a snowmobile and are ready to help” to phone a hotline for further instructions.
Even in a region accustomed to harsh winter weather, the magnitude of the storm was striking. Christina Klaffka, 39, of North Buffalo, watched as her neighbor’s shingles blew off and her windows rattled from “hurricane-like winds.” On Saturday evening, she and her entire neighborhood lost power, and she was still without power on Sunday morning.
Buffalo, New York is battered by a winter storm. On Main St. in Amherst, New York, U.S., December 25, 2022, a snow plow is left stranded on the road following a winter storm that devastated the Buffalo region. “While trying to watch the Buffalo Bills-Chicago Bears game, my TV started flickering. I lost electricity just after the end of the third quarter “She stated.
John Burns, 58, a retired man from North Buffalo, said he and his family were stranded in their home for 36 hours due to the storm and harsh cold, which he described as “cruel and nasty.” “Nobody was outside. Nobody was even taking their dogs for a walk “He stated. “There was nothing going on for two days.”
Snowfall totals were difficult to estimate, he continued, due to strong gusts that limited accumulation between houses while piling up a 5-foot (1.5-meter) drift “in front of my garage.” On Sunday, Hochul told reporters that the Biden administration had agreed to back her request for a federal disaster designation.
According to Hochul, about 200 National Guard members were activated in western New York to assist police and fire crews, conduct health checks, and provide supplies to shelters. The larger storm system was moving east on Sunday, after knocking out power to up to 1.5 million consumers late last week and triggering thousands of commercial airline cancellations during the busy holiday travel season.
According to PowerOutage.us, more than 150,000 households and businesses in the United States remained without power on Sunday, a significant decrease from the 1.8 million without electricity early Saturday. According to Poloncarz, 15,000 people in Buffalo were still without power as of Sunday evening.
According to him, one electrical substation that was taken down was shut off by an 18-foot-tall snow mound, and utility technicians discovered the entire facility frozen within. Temperatures on Christmas Day, while beginning to rise from near-zero readings on Saturday, were significantly below average over the central and eastern United States, and below freezing even as far south as the Gulf Coast, according to National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Rich Otto.
According to the latest NWS tally, nearly 4 feet of snow had been observed at Buffalo airport by Sunday, with white-out conditions remaining south of Buffalo throughout the afternoon as continuous squalls deposited 2-3 inches of snow each hour.
Officials in Kentucky verified three storm-related deaths since Friday, while at least four people were killed and numerous others were injured in auto-related incidents in Ohio, where a 50-vehicle pileup shut down the Ohio Turnpike on Friday during a blizzard. According to news reports, more deaths were recorded in Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, and Colorado as a result of extreme cold or weather-related automobile accidents.