The National Guard moved door-to-door Wednesday looking for winter storm victims who may be missing in parts of Buffalo that suffered prolonged power outages following a Christmas snowstorm. Death buried New York’s second-largest city in heavy snow.
The heaviest blizzard hits the west New York for 45 years as part of a broader winter storm frontal and arctic explosions pushed freezing temperatures south of the Mexican border for days, leaving many dead spots nationwideincluding at least 38 in the Buffalo area.
Many of the deaths in and around Buffalo, located on the western edge of Lake Erie near the Canadian border, were found in cars or in the snow, while several died of cardiac arrest while shoveling, according to Mark Poloncarz, County Erie. implementation and management.
Poloncarz updated its blizzard death toll on Wednesday, reporting 37 deaths in Erie County, with another storm-related death in neighboring Niagara County.
Several unidentified victims have yet to be identified. The city of Buffalo accounted for 29 deaths.
Poloncarz said the National Guard is conducting health checks in each of Buffalo’s neighborhoods and its suburbs where power has been out for extended periods of time, looking for anyone who may be downed. heat or some other medical condition when stuck indoors without electricity and heat.
“We fear there are individuals who may have died living alone or two people doing poorly in an establishment, especially those who are not yet in power,” he told reporters.
He said medical teams will also visit individual households where residents have called the county’s special blizzard hotline for help but are out of reach of emergency personnel at its peak. .
Poloncarz said that by Wednesday evening, the Guards had inspected 850 homes.
He said virtually all power was restored Wednesday night across Erie County, with just 62 customers that utility crews hope will be back up in a few hours.
At the same time, nearly 80 loading and unloading workers worked around the clock to shovel tons of snow onto about 120 dump trucks to be transported to the disposal sites. Poloncarz said the goal is to have at least one lane open on every street by Wednesday night.
Thaw and subsequent floods
As the remnants of the storm subsided into showers early Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported that Buffalo, the first land of the storm, received more than 4-1/2 feet (140 cm) ) snow since last weekend. However, the howling winds piled up much higher in the area, burying hundreds of vehicles, including snow plows, ambulances and trailers.
Mercury rose above freezing on Wednesday and forecasts call for continued ice melt with spring-like temperatures and possible showers over the weekend. The sudden change has the potential to cause flooding and ice blockages on local creeks and quickly turn the region’s frozen landscape into fog.
“We really expect a quick melt in the next two days, because we’re going to hit 50 degrees (Fahrenheit),” Poloncarz said. “We are preparing with the state for the possibility of flooding.”
The driving ban remained in effect for Buffalo as New York City police and military officers were called in to wave cars off the road and stop vehicles trying to enter the city. But Poloncarz said the ban would be lifted at 12:01 a.m. EST on Thursday, replaced by a “travel advisory”.
Even for an area accustomed to dense “lake effect” snowfalls – the result of humidity caused by frigid air moving over warmer lake waters – the latest blizzard ranks as one one of the most crippling battles ever in Western New York.
In terms of intensity, duration, and death toll, the Christmas storm surpassed the 1977 blizzard that killed nearly 30 people and is the local standard by which all weather events are measured. like that ever since.
This week’s thaw is part of a larger warming trend underway in the eastern third of the Earth. USA That will last through New Year’s Day, with temperatures largely remaining above freezing, said Josh Weiss, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.
NWS projections call for potentially excessive rainfall and heavy mountain snow to sweep across much of the West Coast starting on Thursday, powered by an expected “strong atmospheric river”. will hit hardest in central and northern California and southwestern Oregon.
The weather service said showers and thunderstorms are expected on the Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley.