Snowfall eases in western New York after historic storm

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Western New York state is digging out from under piles of snow at the start of the holiday week, after a historic snowstorm slammed the area over the weekend, notching a spot in the record books for Buffalo and surrounding areas.

Just traces of snowfall – 1 to 3 inches – are expected in the Buffalo area through Tuesday, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. A likely welcome respite after the city got 21.5 inches of snow Saturday, setting a daily record for November 19 and marking the second-snowiest November day overall.

In nearby Orchard Park, 80 inches of snow fell between Thursday and Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service Eastern Region said, marking the third-highest three-day total ever in the state of New York.

Two people died in the storm from cardiac complications related to shoveling snow and attempting to clear the ground, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Winter alerts remain in effect until 4 a.m. Monday, with lingering snow expected to add 8-15 inches in a narrow band east of Lake Ontario overnight, Shackelford said.

“Wind advisories are in effect for over 2 million people, so even if there is no new snowfall, blowing snow could be a concern,” he added.

“This was a RECORD-BREAKING storm that in some ways was more intense than Snowvember, the relatively quick recovery is a testament to everyone’s preparation and planning,” Poloncarz tweeted.

“Snowvember” refers to a storm in the Buffalo area in November 2014, where nearly 7 feet of snow was dumped in three days. At least 13 people died in that storm and the weight of the snow caused dozens of roofs to crumble.

As the most recent system fades out, another is expected to bring rain and storms to the Northeast over the weekend after Thanksgiving, Shackelford said.

Buffalo has tallied 36.9 inches of snow in November as of Sunday, the second-highest to this point for November, trailing only 45.6 inches in 2000.

The accumulating lake-effect snow in recent days shuttered roads and snarled air traffic ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

Travel bans were in effect for much of Erie County during the worst of the storm, but Sunday morning New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted many roads in Buffalo and Watertown were able to reopen and “traffic is starting to move again!”

Nearly 400 citations were issued to drivers who have been found violating travel bans in the region, Poloncarz, the Erie County executive, said Saturday.

Air travel was also impacted by the record snow, with dozens of flights arriving and departing from Buffalo Niagara International Airport canceled as storm conditions worsened, according to the airport’s website.

As the area continues to shake-off the accumulated snowfall and works to clear roadways, Buffalo Public Schools will be closed Monday, the district said on Twitter. “Safety is our primary concern. Please stay warm and safe,” the post said.

All Erie County government offices will also be closed Monday, officials said on social media.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN Saturday the city could return to “some sense of normalcy” by Monday or Tuesday.

Speaking at a storm briefing in Jefferson County Sunday, Hochul thanked local and state agencies for their preparation efforts in western New York.

“This has been an historic storm, without a doubt, it’s one for the record books. And as someone who is from Buffalo and has lived in upstate my entire life, we’ve seen a lot of snow,” Hochul said.


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