Buffalo, New York: A ferocious storm dumped massive piles of snow on parts of upstate New York, trapping residents in their homes and stranding motorists on roadways, as temperatures in all 50 US states fell to freezing or below. The storm was blamed for at least six deaths in New York, New Hampshire and Michigan.
Even hardened Buffalo residents were caught off-guard on Tuesday as more than 4 feet of snow piled up in parts of the city. Authorities said by Wednesday afternoon, the snow level could go up to 6 feet in the hardest-hit areas south of Buffalo. Another storm is expected on Thursday. (See pics)
Cold weather enveloped the entire country on Tuesday, leading to record low temperatures more familiar to January than November. Racing winds and icy roads caused accidents, school closings and delays in municipal operations from the Midwest to the South, even where snowfall was low or mercifully absent.
In a region accustomed to highway-choking snowstorms, this one is being called one of the worst in memory. Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile (212-kilometer) stretch of the main highway across New York state.
mk_sarkar_michigan_US_360x270.jpg”We have tried to get out of our house, and we are lucky to be able to shovel so we can open the door,” said Linda Oakley, a resident of Buffalo. “We’re just thinking that in case of an emergency, we can at least get out of the door. We can’t go any further.”
The snowstorm forced motorists, including a women’s basketball team, to ride out the onslaught in their vehicles. They waited for hours to be freed, with some having to wait for more than a day. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed 150 members of the National Guard to help clear snow-clogged roads and remove abandoned vehicles.
By early Wednesday, a Thruway official said most, but not all, passenger vehicles had been cleared.
“It seems like a nightmare. It just doesn’t feel like it is going to end,” Bryce Foreback, 23, of Shicora, Pennsylvania, told The Associated Press by cellphone 20 hours into his wait for help. “I haven’t slept in 30 hours and I’m just waiting to get out of here.”
Foreback had become stuck in a long line of cars just south of Buffalo around 10.30 on Monday night.
Seventeen hours into their wait on Tuesday night, members of the Niagara University women’s basketball team were napping on and off. Some got so thirsty they drank melted snow, said Coach Kendra Faustin, who was traveling with her one-year-old child.
The lake-effect snow created a stark divide: In downtown Buffalo and north of the city, there was a mere dusting of precipitation, while in the south parts, snow was everywhere. Throughout the day, gray clouds persistently hovered over the southern part of the city. The snow density was so high that the haze could be seen from a mile (1.6 km) away.
In New Hampshire and elsewhere, icy roads led to accidents. Lake-effect storms in Michigan produced gale-force winds and as much as 18 inches of snow, and cancelled several flights at the Grand Rapids airport.
In Atlanta, tourists Morten and Annette Larsen from Copenhagen were caught off-guard by the minus 1 degree Celsius weather as they took photos of a monument to the 1996 summer Olympics at Centennial Olympic Park.
“It’s as cold here as it is in Denmark right now. We didn’t expect that,” Larsen said, waving a hand over his denim jacket, buttoned tightly over a hooded sweatshirt.