Dangerous lake-effect snow paralyzes parts of New York state

Wintry Weather An Erie School District bus turns on Old French Road from East 33rd Street in Erie, Pa. on Nov. 17, 2022, following the region's first lake-effect snow storm of the season overnight Wednesday into Thursday. The city saw about five inches of snow with many places in Erie County reporting up to a foot of snow.
Wintry Weather Taylor Olson clears snow from her car in the 400 block of East 33rd Street in Erie on Nov. 17, 2022. "I had to wake up a little early so I could brush my car off," said Olson, 23. "I wasn't ready for it." The region saw its first lake-effect storm of the season overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with about five inches of snow in the city. Areas of Erie County saw higher totals.
Wintry Weather Thomas Mack of the North East Chiropractic Center, 35 S. Lake St., in North East, clears snow from the parking space outside his business on Nov. 17, 2022, following a lake-effect storm that moved through the Erie region.
APTOPIX Wintry Weather Zaria Black, 24, from Buffalo, clears off her car as snow falls Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A person walks through downtown in the snow Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A person walks through downtown in the snow Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather Cars drive along Ellicott Street as snow falls Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A person waits at a bus stop as snow falls on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A person crosses Ellicott Street as snow falls Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A snow plow clears snow from the road on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A car drives by the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library as snow falls Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather Zaria Black, 24, from Buffalo, clears off her car as snow falls Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather New York Homes and parked cars sit under a blanket of snow, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, with nearly 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow already on the ground in some places by midmorning and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A man uses a snowblower to clear the sidewalk outside the Durham Memorial A.M.E Zion Church on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather A car sits in a snowdrift Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather Michigan Vehicles drive along a snow covered Wilson Road in Grandville, Mich., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
Wintry Weather New York Dark clouds hover over water shining under a shaft of sunlight at Erie Basin Marina at about 11:30 a.m., in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
Wintry Weather New York New snowfall blankets the city of Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
Wintry Weather Cars covered in snow are seen downtown Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York, with nearly 2 feet of snow already on the ground in some places and possibly much more on the way.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 as crews work to clear the streets. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 as crews work to clear the streets. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow removed from the street in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Heavy snow falls on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 in Erie, Pa. as the first lake-effect storm hits the Erie region.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow removed from the street in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow removed from the street in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
Wintry Weather Snow covers the ground in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Residents of northern New York state are digging out from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped nearly 6 feet of snow in some areas and caused three deaths. The Buffalo metro area was hit hard, with some areas south of the city receiving more than 5 feet by early Saturday.
(1/31)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, dumping over 5 feet in some spots with more expected to fall through the night into Saturday. The storm was blamed for the deaths of two people stricken while clearing snow.

The storm’s severity varied widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by frigid winds picking up moisture from warmer lakes and dumping snow in narrow bands.

Residents in some parts of Buffalo spent Friday buffeted by blowing, heavy snow, punctuated by occasional claps of thunder, while just a few miles north, only a few inches fell and there were patches of blue sky.

The heaviest snowfall was south of the city. The National Weather Service reported single-day totals of 3 feet (1 meter) in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with bands of heavier precipitation bringing 66 inches (168 centimeters) in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, 48 inches (122 centimeters) in Elma and more than 3 feet in Hamburg, where rescue crews were called to help a resident whose home buckled under the weight.

Schools were shuttered. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and Friday. Numerous flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.

The storm was blamed for two deaths, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, tweeting that they were “associated with cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing.”

“We send our deepest sympathies and remind all that this snow is very heavy and dangerous,” he said.

By Friday afternoon, AAA tow truck drivers were having trouble reaching dozens of stranded drivers who defied travel bans and advisories, association spokeswoman Elizebeth Carey said.

“The AAA crews were trying to get to people that had called in saying they were broken down or stranded or had gone off the road in their vehicle. … A lot of our tow truck drivers kept calling in saying that `police turned me away,’” she said. In some cases, tow trucks followed behind payloaders enlisted to clear the way. The AAA passed along other drivers’ locations to police.

Even before the snow began falling, the NFL announced it would relocate the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday home game against the Cleveland Browns from the team’s stadium in Orchard Park to Detroit.

A day later the Bills tweeted photos of Highmark Stadium showing the playing field and its more than 60,000 seats virtually buried in snow, and forecasters warned of an additional foot or more by Sunday.

Scott Fleetwood of West Seneca captured video of lightning crashing outside his home throughout the night, as well as snow swiftly burying the pumpkins on his porch.

“The sky is white. … Everything’s white. The only thing you can see really is the house across the street,” he said.

“My tiki bar is now an igloo,” he added.

Zaria Black of Buffalo cleared several inches off her car Friday morning as she prepared to go to work. The Amazon employee expected she’d be outside much of the day and was nervous about road conditions.

“Right now, it’s looking pretty bad,” she said.

With numerous cars stuck and abandoned, Mayor Byron Brown urged people to stay off the roads in hard-hit south Buffalo, where extra city and private plows were deployed.

“When the snow is falling between 3 to 4, 5 inches an hour, you can’t beat it,” he cautioned drivers at a news conference. “You are going to get stuck.”

Meanwhile, streets in downtown and north Buffalo had been cleared but were virtually empty of traffic Friday afternoon. Buffalo resident David Munschauer was well aware of the wildly contrasting scenes as he walked around.

“I’m 68, and I’ve lived in this town probably 60 of the 68, and it always amazes me,” he said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The declaration covers 11 counties, with all vehicles banned from a stretch of Interstate 90.

“I am so proud of Western New Yorkers for heeding our call to stay off the roads last night; it was treacherous,” Hochul told radio station WBEN. “And as a result, we were able to salt, we were able to clear the roads better than we would’ve if they had been filled with traffic, and we really avoided a large number of accidents.”

Catholic Health, which operates several health care facilities in the storm zone, has been preparing for days.

“Our staff has really stepped up, and people have been making every effort to get in where they can. Some associates are spending the night,” spokeswoman JoAnn Cavanaugh said. “We’ve made sure our supplies are stocked — food and things for our patients as well as associates.”

Heavy snow accumulations were also reported in northern New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario, and in parts of northern Michigan. Parts of Pennsylvania also were seeing accumulations of lake-effect snow.

Fort Drum, New York, near Lake Ontario, saw 42 inches, the National Weather Service reported Friday.

In southwestern Michigan, state police reported a 20- to 25-vehicle pileup on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo County. No serious injuries were reported.

“Roads still icy, slushy, we must slow down,” police said on Twitter.

Buffalo has experience with dramatic lake-effect snowstorms, few worse than the one that struck in November of 2014. That epic storm dumped 7 feet (2 meters) of snow on some communities over three days, collapsing roofs and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles on a lakeside stretch of the New York State Thruway.

Registered nurse Mary Ann Murphy recalled trudging on foot to Mercy Hospital, husband Steve at her side, in the 2014 storm. The memory made both especially glad she was able to drive to work Friday, despite roughly 2 feet of snow.

“I just kind of gunned it down the street in my little SUV,” said Murphy, who lives about a mile from the Buffalo hospital. “I was just thrilled I didn’t have to walk.”

Friday’s snow also reminded Bruce Leader of the 2014 storm, dubbed “Snow-vember,” which, like this week’s storm, also left some parts of the region buried while others saw just a few inches.

“I was driving back and forth to work to Niagara County scratching my head, like, `What’s all the big hubbub about?′” he said of the 2014 event. “And down there, my friends are like, `Here’s the hubbub,′ sending me photos. And they were doing the same thing this morning.”

___

Associated Press reporters Alina Hartounian in Phoenix, John Wawrow in Buffalo and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

National News | Weather News

Tags:

lake effect

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up