Western New York death toll rises to 27 from cold snap and storm – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The death toll from a blizzard in the Buffalo area of ​​western New York has risen to 27, authorities said Monday, as the region reeled from one of the worst weather disasters in its history. . Much of the rest of the United States was hit by brutal winter conditions.

The dead around Buffalo were found in cars, houses and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow, others when emergency teams failed to respond to medical crises in time.

President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the families of the victims and offered federal aid to the hard-hit state on Monday.

Nationwide, the storm is responsible for at least 50 deaths, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz described the blizzard as “probably the worst storm we’ve ever seen” and warned there could be more deaths. Some people, he said, were stuck in their cars for more than two days.

“It’s a terrible situation that we can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. But this is not the end,” he said on Monday. The National Weather Service said Monday that up to an additional 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow could fall in some areas through Tuesday.

Scientists say the climate change crisis may have contributed to the storm’s intensity. That’s because the atmosphere can carry more water vapor, which acts as fuel, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University, compares a weather event to an “at-bat” – and climate to your “batting average.”

“It’s hard to say,” Serreze said. “But are the dice a bit loaded now?” Really.”

A blizzard roared through western New York on Friday and Saturday – stranding motorists, knocking out power and preventing emergency crews from reaching residents in frozen homes and stuck cars.

With many grocery stores in the Buffalo area closed and driving prohibited, several people took to social media to plead for donations of food and diapers.

The ferocity of the whiteout conditions tested a region used to punishing snow.

“It doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 pieces of equipment and 10,000 people, you still can’t do anything in that time. It’s very serious,” said Poloncarz, the county official. “I know it’s hard for people to believe, but it’s like staring at a blank wall for 14-18 hours straight.”

Relief will come this week, however, as forecasts call for slowly rising temperatures, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook.

“Nothing like last week,” Cook said, adding that the bomb storm — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly during a strong storm — has weakened. It formed near the Great Lakes, causing blizzard conditions including high winds and snow.

The extreme weather extended from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border. About 60% of the US population faces some type of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures have dropped well below normal from the Rocky Mountains east to Appalachia.

About 3,410 domestic and international flights were canceled as of 3 pm EDT Monday, according to tracking site FlightAware. The site says Southwest Airlines had 2,497 cancellations, about 60% of its scheduled flights and about 10 times more than any other major US carrier.

Southwest said the weather is improving, which will “stabilize and improve our situation.”

According to data from FlightAware, airports across the United States are experiencing cancellations and delays, including Denver, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle, Baltimore and Chicago.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited the aftermath in Buffalo – her hometown – on Monday, calling the blizzard “one for the ages”. Almost all fire trucks in the city were grounded on Saturday, he said.

Hochul noted that the storm came just over a month after the region was inundated with another “historic” snowfall. Between the two storms, snowfall totals were not far off the 95.4 inches (242 centimeters) the region typically sees for an entire winter season.

The National Weather Service said the snow total at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) as of 10 a.m. Monday. Officials said the airport would be closed until Wednesday morning.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown described the excruciating task of recovering storm victims from cars, homes and streets.

“Our police are human. It hurts to find members of your community dead,” the mayor said, adding that blizzard victims were “trying to get out during the storm, distraught and dying on the street.”

At a nearby home, Shahida Muhammad told WKBW that her one-year-old son’s fan was knocked out due to the power outage. She and the boy’s father gave her life breaths manually from Friday to Sunday, when rescuers saw her desperate posts on social media and came to their aid.

Erie County officials said they drove to the family’s home Saturday, but no one came to the door. Muhammad said they were there, but thankfully his son was fine despite the ordeal. He described her as “a fighter”.

The storm also knocked out power in communities from Maine to Seattle. The mid-Atlantic grid operator called on its 65 million customers to conserve energy amid Saturday’s freeze.

Storm-related deaths were reported across the country, including at least eight deaths in crashes in Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky, a woman who fell through ice on the Wisconsin River and a deadly campfire for Kansas without residence.

Many others were injured, including St. Louis, where a Georgia driver swerved to avoid a salt truck Monday and hit a median.

In Jackson, Mississippi, crews struggled Monday to deliver water to the capital’s troubled water supply system, authorities said. Many areas have no water or low water pressure. On Christmas Day, residents were told to boil their drinking water due to water pipes bursting due to cold temperatures.

“The problem must be a significant leak in the system that we haven’t identified yet,” the city said in a statement Monday.

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

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