Western N.Y. death toll rises to 34 from cold, storm chaos
Those who lost their lives around Buffalo were found in cars, homes, and snowbanks.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Storm-battered Buffalo braced Tuesday for fresh snow while still striving to recover from an epic blizzard that killed at least 34 people, stranded others in cars for days and shuttered the city’s airport.
The National Weather Service predicted that as much as 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of snow could fall Tuesday in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, the second-largest city in New York, with about 275,000 residents.
While that’s nothing like the massive storm that dropped over 4 feet of snow in some places starting on Christmas Eve, “any additional snowfall that Buffalo may continue to have today is going to be impactful,” said lead forecaster Bob Oravec.
“The biggest impact is going to be how it hinders the removal of the previous snowfall,” he said.
The rest of the United States also was reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least an additional two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country, and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state.
In Buffalo, the dead were found in cars, homes and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow, others when emergency crews could not respond in time to medical crises. County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the blizzard “the worst storm probably in our lifetime,” even for an area known for heavy snow.
Mayor Byron Brown’s office announced seven additional storm-related deaths Tuesday, bringing Buffalo’s total to 27, along with at least seven suburban fatalities.
Trisha LoGrasso and her family were still huddled around a space heater in a makeshift hut in her Buffalo living room Monday. She was without heat because of a gas leak, the temperature inside the home was 42 degrees (5.5 C), and burst pipes left her with no running water.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, and this is the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” the 48-year-old said.
President Joe Biden offered federal assistance Monday to hard-hit New York, while Gov. Kathy Hochul toured the aftermath in Buffalo — her hometown — and called the blizzard “one for the ages.” Almost every fire truck in the city became stranded Saturday, she said.
Hochul, a Democrat, noted the storm came a little over a month after the region was inundated with another “historic” snowfall. Between the two storms, snowfall totals are not far off from the 95.4 inches (242 centimeters) the area normally sees in an entire winter season.
The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) at 10 a.m. Monday. Officials say the airport will be shut through Wednesday morning.
Some 2,872 domestic and international U.S. flights were canceled Tuesday as of about 8 a.m. Eastern time, according to the tracking site FlightAware.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said it will look into flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines that left travelers stranded at airports across the country amid the winter storm. Many airlines were forced to cancel flights, but Southwest was by far the leader.
Associated Press journalist Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.
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