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Snow wreaks havoc on mobility in Western New York

(CNN) — Heavy snow is expected to continue to pile up in Western New York state through Sunday after a historic storm resulted in the Buffalo area posting snow totals of more than 6 feet in some areas.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service in Buffalo issued a special statement warning that a swath of heavy snow accompanied by high winds was creating a “snow blast” in Western New York state. The band was moving south of the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan areas, the weather service said.

“This swath of heavy snow produces extremely heavy snowfall at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour,” he said. “Be very careful if you have to travel… Rapid changes in visibility and potentially slippery roads can lead to accidents.”

While the Buffalo area is used to dealing with heavy snow, this storm delivered “a lot more than we usually get,” Mayor Byron Brown told CNN on Saturday.

Erie County, which includes Buffalo, saw the most snow in a 24-hour period on Saturday, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Since the snowfall began, two people have died of heart complications related to shoveling snow and trying to clear the ground, he said.

Because the heavier snow drifted south of the Buffalo metro area overnight in southern Erie and Chautauqua counties, an additional 6 to 18 inches (1.8 to 5.4 meters) is possible in the region, especially on a higher ground, said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

This Sunday morning, winds have shifted further westerly, meaning the heaviest bands of lake effect snow are now south of Buffalo, affecting areas from Cleveland to Dunkirk, New York. Buffalo is no longer under a lake-effect snow warning but remains under a winter weather warning through Sunday night for “blizzard,” according to the Weather Service.

The heaviest snowfall this Sunday will be east of Lake Ontario where up to a foot of additional snow is expected with localized areas likely to see even more.

Winds could blow up to 45 mph (72.4 km/h) in the Great Lakes region, leading to very cold conditions with temperatures in the single digits to slightly below freezing.

New York on alert for a powerful snowstorm 3:41

Record snowfall creates travel hazards

Snow totals of more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) were recorded at two locations, according to the Weather Service. Orchard Park, where the NFL’s Buffalo Bills play, had 77.0 inches (195 centimeters) in a 48-hour period, and Natural Bridge, just east of Watertown, had 72.3 inches (185 centimeters), an all-time high for the area.

The multi-day weather event hampered travel in the region, causing road closures, driving bans and flight cancellations the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday.

This Saturday evening, the weather service warned that the latest band would worsen travel conditions in minutes.

Nearly 400 citations have been issued to drivers who violated travel bans in the region, said Erie County Executive Poloncarz.

“If you try to enter an area where a travel ban is in effect, you will be greeted by a friendly New York State Police officer who will immediately fine you for violating the travel ban,” Poloncarz said.

Authorities are assisting vehicles stranded on the side of the road or that have been involved in accidents due to people traveling during the blizzard, he said.

Air travelers haven’t fared much better, with dozens of flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport canceled due to worsening storm conditions, according to the airport’s website.

The airport set a daily snowfall record of 54.6 centimeters (21.5 inches) on Saturday, breaking the previous daily record of 19.3 centimeters (7.6 inches) set in 2014, the local weather bureau said. .

This ranks as the fifth-highest single-day snowfall total on record for Buffalo, and the second-highest single-day snowfall total for the month of November.

This month marks the third snowiest November in Buffalo at the airport thanks to the second storm the local weather service office.

Jenny Vega (left) and Roberto Rentas shovel snow in front of their Buffalo home on Friday. (Credit: Brendan Bannon/The New York Times/Redux)

Governor insists on preparing for storms

New York Governor Kathy Hochul praised the state’s preparedness for storms Saturday afternoon, saying crews have been working tirelessly to handle the situation.

“This is the effort we have put together: bringing resources, people, equipment from all over New York State. And because we were so preemptive in this attack, we were able to prevent a lot of tragedies,” Hochul said.

He thanked Western New Yorkers for shutting down major highways, implementing travel bans, and staying home before the snow started, which helped prevent accidents, protect human life, and ensure safe, clear streets for emergency services , he has declared.

Hochul said he will double the number of New York National Guardsmen in Erie County to monitor residents and help clear snow.

You will also sign a federal reimbursement application through a federal disaster emergency declaration.

Nearly 6 million people in four Great Lakes states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York) improved thanks to winter weather warnings for much of this Sunday.

Brown, the mayor of Buffalo, said the city could return to “some sense of normalcy” on Monday or Tuesday, assuming the worst of the storm passes through Sunday.

“This was a very unpredictable storm with bands of snow moving back and forth, north to south,” Brown said. “The snow fell very fast, very wet, very heavy.”

CNN meteorologists Haley Brink and Gene Norman and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN’s Aya Elamroussi and Mallika Kallingal contributed to this report.

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