as A massive winter storm As brutal winter weather continues to blast much of the U.S. — leading to at least 37 deaths nationwide — parts of western New York were buried in 43 inches of snow, stranding thousands of vehicles and leaving power out over the Christmas weekend.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul told CNN, “This storm was the most destructive storm in Buffalo’s long history.” Heavy snow and blizzard conditions made roads impassable with zero visibility, froze power substations and killed at least 17 people across the state. He died on Sunday night.
Rescue crews and hundreds of plow drivers were out on Christmas Day, even emergency and rescue vehicles sent to help were stuck in the snow. Eleven ambulances that had to be abandoned were dug out on Sunday, officials said.
Erie County Executive Mark Polancarz said during a news conference Sunday that “rescue crews were rescuing rescuers … and it was just horrible. Many of New York’s weather-related deaths were in Erie County, where some people were found dead in cars and on the streets in ice, he said.
A Buffalo police report says the deaths reported in Buffalo were “people found outdoors and in cars.”
Hundreds of National Guard troops are involved in rescue operations in New York. The governor said state police had performed more than 500 rescues by Sunday, including delivering a baby and helping a man with 4% left on a mechanical heart.
“We’re still in this very dangerous life-threatening situation,” Hochul said. A driving ban remains in place in Erie County until Monday, urging residents to stay off the roads.
“Our state and county plows are relentless, giving up time and putting themselves at risk, clearing roads through blinding blizzards,” Hochul said.
As blistering blizzard conditions swept the region, about 500 motorists found themselves stranded in their vehicles from Friday night to Saturday morning, Polancarz said, describing the frightening conditions on the road.
“Imagine being on a white sheet of paper for over 24 hours straight with only a few steps in front of you. “It was like that outside in the worst situation,” he said. “It’s a series of blizzards and white outs and nobody can see where they’re going. Nobody knows what’s going on.”
Abandoned vehicles and snow-covered roads — hundreds more cars on Buffalo streets — conditions are dire inside homes.
Some residents have been in their homes for the past 56 hours, some without power in the freezing temperatures, Hochul said during a press conference. The reason for this is not lack of resources, but rather a The mobility and accessibility challenge facing utility companies.
As of Sunday evening, 94.5% of Erie County residents and 87% of Buffalo residents had their power restored, Hochul said.
Still, 12,000 homes and businesses were without power in Erie County Sunday evening, and many more won’t have lights and heating until Tuesday, Polancarz said.
According to the National Weather Service, Buffalo will continue to see snow and bitterly cold temperatures Monday, with daytime highs of 23 degrees and nighttime lows of 18 degrees.
In pictures: Winter storm hits US
Over the past week, a lingering winter storm has blanketed much of the United States with dangerously low temperatures and wind chills, and brought widespread power outages and thousands of canceled flights.
More than 10 million people were under blackout warnings throughout the South Monday, including residents of Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.
Freezing temperatures are expected across affected areas, where temperatures will be in the mid-teens and low 20s, which could kill crops and damage plumbing. Most of these warnings will expire Monday morning as temperatures finally begin to recover from the polar winds.
Nationwide, more than 98,000 customers were still without power on Christmas Eve, according to PowerOutage.US. Since the storm began, the number of outages has exceeded one million at times.
Several states reported several storm-related deaths as the brutal weather continued. In addition to deaths in New York, deaths include:
• Colorado: Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have reported two cold-related deaths since Thursday, one possibly seeking warmth near a building’s transformer and another found camping in an alley.
• KansasThree people have died in weather-related traffic accidents, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Friday.
• Kentucky: Three people have died in the state, officials said, including one in a vehicle crash in Montgomery County.
• Missouri: One person died after a caravan plunged off a snowy road into a frozen creek, Kansas City police said.
• Ohio: Nine people have died in weather-related auto crashes, including four on Interstate 75 Saturday morning when a semi-tractor-trailer crossed the median and collided with an SUV and a pickup, officials said.
• Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed a storm-related death Friday.
• Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Patrol reported a fatal crash Thursday due to wintry weather.
A powerful system that brings blizzard and winter weather warnings continues to move in from the northeast, although many towns and cities remain covered in thick snow. In a 24-hour period, Baraka, Michigan received 42.8 inches of snow and Watertown, New York received 34.2 inches.
Grand Rapids, Michigan received its snowiest Christmas Eve ever, with a record 10.5 inches. National Weather Service.
Winter storm warnings are in effect for Buffalo, Jamestown and Watertown, New York, and will expire over the next two days. Forecasts show Jamestown could see another 8 inches of snow, Buffalo another 14 inches and Watertown another 3 feet. Wind gusts up to 40 mph are possible.
Lake effect snow warnings remain in place until 10 a.m. EST Tuesday, north of Jamestown Up to 18 inches is possible.
Persistent lake-effect snow blowing downwind from the Great Lakes will gradually intensify, but arctic winds enveloping much of the eastern half of the country will slowly moderate. National Weather Service.
Lake-effect snow will create hazardous travel conditions for the next two days and conditions are expected to improve slowly during the week.
A low pressure system is forecast to move farther into Canada, while another system quickly moves across the northern U.S. into Monday, bringing snow from the Northern Plains through the Midwest.
Forecasters said most of the eastern part of the country will remain in deep freeze until Monday before easing on Tuesday.
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