A powerful winter storm that brought heavy snow, high winds, and brutal cold to most of the US created a lake-effect snow event in Erie County, New York, making roads impassable and leaving many without power on Christmas morning.
Governor Kathy Hochul called this storm the “most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long storied history” in a news conference this past Sunday. On Monday, she requested President Joe Biden issue federal emergency declarations for Erie and Genesee counties.
The storm began as rainfall, showering the city with 1.98 inches on Friday. But as arctic air rushed in, rain changed to heavy snow Friday morning.
The Buffalo airport recorded zero-mile visibility for nearly 16 hours from midday Friday to the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, where more than 50 inches of snow fell, forcing the airport to close. More than 5,000 flights were canceled on Friday, while more than 3,400 flights were canceled Saturday and more than 3,100 were canceled on Christmas, according to FlightAware.
The airport is expected to remain closed until late Wednesday morning, December 28, according to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Frigid temperatures and paralyzing snowfall totals forced hundreds of National Guard troops to be deployed to help with rescue efforts as abandoned vehicles scattered the area’s streets. Even emergency and recovery vehicles were getting stuck in the snow.
Some people were stuck in their cars for more than two days.
Conditions were bad inside homes as well, as many people lost power. Multiple storm-related deaths were reported across several states due to the devastating conditions.
“This has been a very difficult and dangerous storm,” stated Buffalo’s mayor, Byron Brown at a news conference on Monday. “It’s been described as a once-in-a-generation storm. And everything that has been forecast, we have gotten in the city of Buffalo, and then some.”
The snow was expected to end by this morning, Tuesday, December 27, and move south overnight according to meteorologist Jon Hitchcock.
The storm comes just one month after a historic snowstorm dumped more than 80 inches of snow on the area.
We hope everyone is staying warm and safe!