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More lake effect snow forecast; Buffalo driving bans remains

Englewood Ave. near Mildred St., Buffalo, Dec. 26, 2022
Beth Fronckowiak
Englewood Avenue near Mildred Street in Buffalo is covered in snow Dec. 26, 2022.

A driving ban remains in Buffalo, but all of Erie County remains under a winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service through Tuesday afternoon. The Thruway remains closed from Pennsylvania to I-390

A winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service calls for additional snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches in the most persistent lake snows across Erie County — but mainly in the southtowns Angola to Hamburg to West Seneca. The advisory remains in place until 1 p.m. Tuesday, the service said.

The rest of the United States also was reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least another two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country.

Buffalo residents hovered around space heaters, hunted for cars buried in snow drifts and looked for more victims after 28 people died in one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit Western New York.

Calling the blizzard “the worst storm probably in our lifetime,” even for an area accustomed to punishing snow, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said some people were stranded in their cars for more than two days.

President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the victims’ families, and offered federal assistance Monday to the hard-hit state.

Those who lost their lives around Buffalo were found in cars, homes and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow, others when emergency crews could not respond in time to medical crises.

A few personal stories

Shahida Muhammad told WKBW that an outage knocked out power to her 1-year-old son’s ventilator. She and the child’s father manually administered breaths from Friday until Sunday when rescuers saw her desperate social media posts and came to their aid. She said her son was doing well despite the ordeal and described him as “a fighter.”

Trisha LoGrasso was still huddled around a space heater Monday in a makeshift hut in her living room with three of her children and her eldest daughter’s boyfriend. The temperature inside her Buffalo home was 42 degrees (5.5 C). She was without heat because of a gas leak, and burst pipes left her with no running water.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and this is the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” the 48-year-old said.

Melissa Osmon and her husband James were without power for more than 72 hours in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, and would retreat to their car to stay warm for hours at a time.

“We even watched the Buffalo Bills game on our phone,” Osmon said, speaking by phone from her GMC Acadia. “You can see your breath inside the house. That’s how cold it is.”

Melissa Carrick, a doula, said the blizzard forced her to coach a pregnant client through childbirth by telephone. An ambulance crew transported the woman to a hospital about 45 minutes south of Buffalo because none of the closer hospitals were reachable.

“In any other normal Buffalo storm? I would just go because that’s what you do – just drive through the snow,” she said. “But you knew this was different.”

The blizzard roared across Western New York Friday and Saturday. With many grocery stores in the Buffalo area closed and driving bans in place, some people pleaded on social media for donations of food and diapers.

“It was like looking at a white wall for 14 to 18 hours straight,” Poloncarz said.

Flights cancelled

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) announced the airfield at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will remain closed until 11 a.m.Wednesday. Pittsburgh Airport has reached out and will be sending some snow plowing equipment to assist
and airport crews are working around the clock to ensure safe travels as soon as possible.

Some 3,410 domestic and international flights were canceled Monday as of about 3 p.m. EDT, according to the tracking site FlightAware. The site said Southwest Airlines had 2,497 cancellations — about 60% of its scheduled flights and about 10 times as many as any other major U.S. carrier.

Based on FlightAware data, airports all across the U.S. were suffering from cancellations and delays, including Denver, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle, Baltimore and Chicago.

'One for the ages'

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul toured the aftermath in Buffalo — her hometown — on Monday, calling the blizzard “one for the ages.” Almost every fire truck in the city became stranded Saturday, she said.

Hochul noted the storm came a little over a month after the region was inundated with another “historic” snowfall. Between the two storms, snowfall totals are not far off from the 95.4 inches (242 centimeters) the area normally sees in an entire winter season.

The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) at 10 a.m. Monday.

Dave Debo's journalism career runs the gamut from public radio to commercial radio, from digital projects to newspapers. With over 30 years of experience, he's produced national television news programs and has worked as both a daily and weekly print journalist and web editor.
The Associated Press
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