Buffalo’s deadliest storm in 50 years: Death toll rises to 25 and power is knocked out to thousands

The death toll from an ungodly blizzard in upstate New York has risen to 27, as trapped residents brace for another foot of snow.

The blizzard in Buffalo is now the deadliest storm to affect the western part of the state in at least 50 years, and officials fear the situation may only get worse as more than 12,000 residents remain without power and roads remain impassable.

The city was inundated by six feet of ‘lake effect’ snow, which occurs when frigid air moves over warmer lake waters and creates a freezing spray. 

Shelters and nursing homes are now starting to run out of food, Erie County Executive Marc Poloncarz said at a news conference Monday morning, as first responders struggle to reach people trapped in their cars while a driving ban remains in effect.

‘This is the worst storm probably in our lifetime and maybe in the history of the city,’ he said. ‘And this is not yet the end.’ 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul even said the city of Buffalo is like a ‘war zone.’  

The city is now expected to receive another six to 12 inches of heavy, unplowable snow as the death toll throughout the country rises to nearly 50 and temperatures in Montana dropped as low as -50F(45C) and to -37F(-38C) in Des Moines, Iowa — meaning people there could suffer frostbite in less than five minutes.

Plows work to clear ice and snow along the Lake Erie shoreline during the Christmas holidays

Plows work to clear ice and snow along the Lake Erie shoreline during the Christmas holidays

A drone image shows the deep freeze in Cheektowaga, New York, covered in a blanket of snow

A drone image shows the deep freeze in Cheektowaga, New York, covered in a blanket of snow

A weather map shows the freezing conditions across large parts of the country today

A weather map shows the freezing conditions across large parts of the country today

The devastating storm impacting the U.S. continues to rage, with more than 50 now confirmed to have died

The devastating storm impacting the U.S. continues to rage, with more than 50 now confirmed to have died

Snow quickly piled up in Erie County, New York, home to Buffalo. Nearly four feet of snow had fallen by Sunday morning

Snow quickly piled up in Erie County, New York, home to Buffalo. Nearly four feet of snow had fallen by Sunday morning 

In Erie County, three people were killed from cardiac events while snow shoveling and snow blowing during the storm

In Erie County, three people were killed from cardiac events while snow shoveling and snow blowing during the storm

Residents in Buffalo continue to deal with freezing temperatures, power outages, and more snow is forecast

Residents in Buffalo continue to deal with freezing temperatures, power outages, and more snow is forecast 

Buffalo's snowfall total for all of the 2022-2023 season is less than three inches away from the total normal seasonal snow for the area

Buffalo’s snowfall total for all of the 2022-2023 season is less than three inches away from the total normal seasonal snow for the area 

One man attempted to plow through several feet of snow in Buffalo on Sunday

One man attempted to plow through several feet of snow in Buffalo on Sunday

More than 55million people are still under weather alerts and on Christmas Day, New York Governor Hochul held a press conference where she described the blizzard as ‘the most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long, storied history’ of horrific storms.

‘It is devastating. It is going to a war zone,’ Hochul said Sunday. In Buffalo, some of those who died were found in cars and others were found on the street in snowbanks, according to Poloncarz, the executive of Erie County.

‘There may be more,’ Poloncarz said. ‘I don’t want to say this is going to be it, because that would be fallacy for me to say that. 

‘Because we know there are people stuck in cars for more than two days. And there are people in homes that are below freezing temperatures.’

Other reported deaths in upstate New York occurred in Amherst, Cheektowaga and Lockport, according to local officials. 

The one person killed in the Lockport died after heavy snow covered the external furnace at a home, causing a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Meanwhile, in Cheektowaga, two people were found dead in their suburban homes when emergency crews could not reach them in time to treat their medical conditons. 

Poloncarz late Sunday evening shared that four of those killed were found outside, one inside a car, and one inside a home. 

Three were killed from cardiac events from snow shoveling and snow blowing events and three died while waiting for EMS to arrive.  

‘Sadly, we’re getting reports of additional deaths that still need to be confirmed,’ Poloncarz said Sunday. 

The ages of those killed in Buffalo and the surrounding areas range from 26 to 93. One victim has so far been identified; 56 year-old William Clay, who died on his birthday, December 23, after trying to walk through the snow to go to a store. 

Conditions were so turbulent on Saturday evening, Buffalo Fire Department vehicles could not answer calls as huge snowdrifts continued to cover cars.

'It is devastating. It is going to a war zone,' NY Governor Kathy Hochul said Sunday morning during a press conference

‘It is devastating. It is going to a war zone,’ NY Governor Kathy Hochul said Sunday morning during a press conference

'Sadly, we're getting reports of additional deaths that still need to be confirmed,' Poloncarz said Sunday evening

‘Sadly, we’re getting reports of additional deaths that still need to be confirmed,’ Poloncarz said Sunday evening

In total, 18 have been killed by the effects of the storm in western New York

In total, 18 have been killed by the effects of the storm in western New York 

Nationwide, 35 people have died from the devastating storm

Nationwide, 35 people have died from the devastating storm

Thousand of Americans were snowed in on Christmas Day and will continue to see winter conditions continue into the middle of the week

Thousand of Americans were snowed in on Christmas Day and will continue to see winter conditions continue into the middle of the week 

Three people in the Buffalo area died while waiting on delayed EMS, according to Erie County officials

Three people in the Buffalo area died while waiting on delayed EMS, according to Erie County officials 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz shared this devastating breakdown of the deaths in the Buffalo area from the bomb cyclone

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz shared this devastating breakdown of the deaths in the Buffalo area from the bomb cyclone

Buffalo is now set to be battered by another 36 inches of snow by Tuesday, with the National Weather Service warning extreme flurries will soon hit.

Officials confirmed that the area is no longer under blizzard warnings after being pummeled by 80-mph winds and multiple deaths on Christmas Eve. 

But Poloncarz has compared the current weather disaster to the deadly blizzard of 1977  which claimed the lives of 29 people. 

As of Sunday evening, Hochul said New York state police have been involved in more than 500 rescues. 

Officials have urged residents in Buffalo to stay inside and stay warm during the storm

Officials have urged residents in Buffalo to stay inside and stay warm during the storm 

Local officials have struggled to keep up with the snow as hundreds of rescues have taken place since the storm began

Local officials have struggled to keep up with the snow as hundreds of rescues have taken place since the storm began 

Cars were stranded in the snow on hazardous roads blocked by snow

Cars were stranded in the snow on hazardous roads blocked by snow

Buffalo is set to be battered by another 36 inches of snow until Tuesday

The National Weather Service is warning of extreme flurries

Buffalo is set to be battered by another 36 inches of snow until Tuesday, with the National Weather Service warning of extreme flurries 

More than 12,000 customers in the Buffalo area are still without power on Monday, as officials say it may take days to turn it back on. 

‘Substations froze. They were snowed under. We had a report that one substation had an 18-foot drift on to it,’ Poloncarz said. 

‘And when they got in the substation was frozen. They still don’t even know to the extent the damage that occurred in the substation,’ the executive continued. 

Those without power have been told to leave their water faucets on in order to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. 

Millions of people hunkered down against a deep freeze Sunday morning to ride out the frigid storm

Millions of people hunkered down against a deep freeze Sunday morning to ride out the frigid storm

Two people making snow angels after a snowstorm in Buffalo, NY, as the National Weather Service warn that being outdoors in some areas could lead to ¿frostbite in minutes¿

Two people making snow angels after a snowstorm in Buffalo, NY, as the National Weather Service warn that being outdoors in some areas could lead to ‘frostbite in minutes’

Hoaks restaurant along the Lake Erie shoreline in Hamburg has been entirely covered in ice after being hit by freezing spray from the lake

Hoaks restaurant along the Lake Erie shoreline in Hamburg has been entirely covered in ice after being hit by freezing spray from the lake

Snow blankets a neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, as the blizzards stopped for a few minutes

Snow blankets a neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, as the blizzards stopped for a few minutes

An estimated 43 inches of snow had fallen in Buffalo as of Sunday morning, according to AccuWeather.

On Friday , Buffalo received 22.3 inches, followed by 17.9 inches on Christmas Eve. 

And just after 6pm on Sunday, the National Weather Service of Buffalo shared a startling statistic regarding the snow fall totals in the area. 

‘A very snowy start to the season, with lake effect events focusing upon the #Buffalo airport and vicinity. The 92.7′ of snow is not only the most snow to start the winter season through #Christmas, but also just 2.7′ behind the typical entire seasonal snowfall,’ NWS Buffalo tweeted. 

On Saturday, a 56 year-old father was identified as the first victim of the storm. 

William ‘Romello’ Clay had been missing since midnight on December 23 after leaving his home to go to the store. 

Video shared online showed a man lying face down in the snow Saturday afternoon near Bailey and Kensington Avenue in Buffalo. 

The remains were later identified by Clay’s family members. 

Others killed have yet to be identified in what Governor Hochul on Sunday called ‘the most devastating storm’ in history. 

Throughout the weekend, Erie County warming centers were forced to close because they lost power during the storm. 

William Clay, 56, went by Romello and was remembered by loved ones online after his body was found lying face down in the snow at Bailey and Kensington Avenue in Buffalo

William Clay, 56, went by Romello and was remembered by loved ones online after his body was found lying face down in the snow at Bailey and Kensington Avenue in Buffalo

Emergency workers in Buffalo made at least 50 rescues between Friday and Saturday – including a small child.

Chief Brian Britzzalaro of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department said: ‘I lived through the Blizzard of ’77. This is worse.’

Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties have a winter storm warning through until Monday, with heavy snow, lakeshore flooding and whiteout conditions are causing life-threatening conditions.

Buffalo Airport has seen cancellations with many people becoming stranded and some even being frozen inside their homes as the blistering winter whips the city.

Lake Erie has seen mass flooding, with a restaurant becoming an ice palace after spray from the shoreline hit the entire building.

Alya Eren posted beneath a huge snowman that she created in Montreal, Canada, on Christmas Day

Alya Eren posted beneath a huge snowman that she created in Montreal, Canada, on Christmas Day

A man clears snow from the front of his home, Sunday, in Buffalo. Four people were found dead in snow banks and their cars

A man clears snow from the front of his home, Sunday, in Buffalo. Four people were found dead in snow banks and their cars

A snow drift nearly touches the bottom of two swings in the back yard of a property in Buffalo

A snow drift nearly touches the bottom of two swings in the back yard of a property in Buffalo

Emergency workers in Buffalo made at least 50 rescues between Friday and Saturday ¿ including a small child

Emergency workers in Buffalo made at least 50 rescues between Friday and Saturday – including a small child

Homes in Tonawanda in Erie County have been entirely buried in blankets of snow of up to six-foot as residents are struggling with a power outage.

Two golf domes within Buffalo City have been destroyed, with the furious storm causing them to collapse.

For Ditjak Ilunga, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, the experience was one he says he will never forget.

He was on his way to visit relatives in Ontario for Christmas with his daughters on Friday when their SUV got trapped in Buffalo.

They spent hours inside the vehicle with the engine running, he told the Associated Press, but when their fuel nearly ran out at around 4am on Saturday, he decided to risk the storm to reach a nearby shelter.

Ilunga carried his 6-year-old daughter, Destiny, on his back, while his 16-year-old daughter, Cindy, clutched their Pomeranian puppy.

He said he remembers thinking: ‘If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids.’

When he finally reached the shelter, he said he cried. 

Brave residents in western New York attempted to battle the snow for Christmas - as thousands became snowed-in their properties

Brave residents in western New York attempted to battle the snow for Christmas – as thousands became snowed-in their properties

A rare freeze spray warning has been issued for both Erie and Chautauqua counties until 4pm on Sunday, with the lake rarely whipping up freezing spray to those on the shoreline

A rare freeze spray warning has been issued for both Erie and Chautauqua counties until 4pm on Sunday, with the lake rarely whipping up freezing spray to those on the shoreline

Emergency workers in Buffalo made at least 50 rescues between Friday and Saturday ¿ including a small child. Chief Brian Britzzalaro of the Erie County Sheriff's Department said: ¿I lived through the Blizzard of ¿77. This is worse'

Emergency workers in Buffalo made at least 50 rescues between Friday and Saturday – including a small child. Chief Brian Britzzalaro of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department said: ‘I lived through the Blizzard of ’77. This is worse’

Buffalo Airport has seen cancellations with many people becoming stranded and some even being frozen inside their homes as the blistering winter whips the city

Buffalo Airport has seen cancellations with many people becoming stranded and some even being frozen inside their homes as the blistering winter whips the city

Residents have been urged to stay off the roads, with a driving ban put in place to protect the locals and executives warned that the ¿best place you can be is home, safe¿

Residents have been urged to stay off the roads, with a driving ban put in place to protect the locals and executives warned that the ‘best place you can be is home, safe’

Governor Hochul said Friday almost every fire truck in the city was stranded in the snow, as she asked residents to ‘bundle up, stay indoors, and stay safe this weekend.’

National Grid, which services customers in New York and Massachusetts, is asking its customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island to reduce natural gas usage until Sunday afternoon – affecting 1.9 million customers.

New York’s international airport was shut down, with tens of thousands of flight being canceled in the past week due to the snow bomb.

Ice formed by the spray of Lake Erie waves covers a walkway during a winter storm in Irving, New York

Ice formed by the spray of Lake Erie waves covers a walkway during a winter storm in Irving, New York

The American Medical Response of Western New York has also suffered from stolen emergency vehicles after becoming stuck in the snow

The American Medical Response of Western New York has also suffered from stolen emergency vehicles after becoming stuck in the snow

New Yorkers and tourists are confronted with a heavy cold weather of 11 degree - with many bundling up

New Yorkers and tourists are confronted with a heavy cold weather of 11 degree – with many bundling up

The devastation in Buffalo comes as more than 200,000 people across several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had their holiday travel plans upended, even as the five-day-long storm featuring blizzard conditions and ferocious winds showed signs of easing.

It forced the cancellation of nearly 3,000 US flights on Sunday, in addition to some 3,500 scrapped on Saturday and nearly 6,000 Friday, according to tracking website Flightaware.com.

More than 1,000 US flights had already been canceled just hours into Monday, the website reported.

The National Weather Service has now warned that being outdoors in some areas could lead to ‘frostbite in minutes’.

Fatalities have been recorded in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and New York, with four people dying on Saturday in a three-vehicle crash on an interstate highway in Ohio. 

People take a walk along Lakeshore Boulevard in Montreal despite the blizzard warnings in place

People take a walk along Lakeshore Boulevard in Montreal despite the blizzard warnings in place 

The aftermath of the bomb-cyclone has caused blizzard conditions across almost every state in the US – as millions in New York City have been warned to conserve energy. 

ConEdison urged their four million customers to conserve energy until ‘further notice’ because of the frigid weather, which has issued an increased demand on gas pipelines.

They warned that the call to turn the heating down would affect 1.1 million natural gas customers and 3.5 million electric customers.

Locals in Jackson, Mississippi, have been told they must boil their drinking water because of water lines bursting in the freezing weather. 

Western New York has seen winds of up to 70mph, with blizzard warnings in place so Niagara, Orleans, Erie and Genesee counties until 7am on Sunday.

Fallen branches cover picnic tables in Canada as temperatures continue to plummet across the US

Fallen branches cover picnic tables in Canada as temperatures continue to plummet across the US

Thousands of people in Seattle were stuck on planes for hours amid the blizzard conditions, with at last 3,000 flights canceled on Christmas Day already.

Seattle saw hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses left without power with millions left on the edge about the possibility of blackouts.

The American Medical Response of Western New York has also suffered from stolen emergency vehicles after becoming stuck in the snow.

A Chevy Tahoe with AMR markings was stuck in the snow less than a mile from the organization’s office.

Authorities sent a loader to dig the vehicle out, but by the time they arrived, it had been stolen – with officials warning the public not to approach the vehicle if spotted.

Seattle saw hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses left without power with millions left on the edge about the possibility of blackouts

Seattle saw hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses left without power with millions left on the edge about the possibility of blackouts

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday almost every fire truck in the city was stranded in the snow, as she asked residents to ¿bundle up, stay indoors, and stay safe this weekend'

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday almost every fire truck in the city was stranded in the snow, as she asked residents to ‘bundle up, stay indoors, and stay safe this weekend’

Two golf domes within Buffalo City have been destroyed, with the furious storm causing them to collapse

Two golf domes within Buffalo City have been destroyed, with the furious storm causing them to collapse

Homes in Tonawanda in Erie County have been entirely buried in blankets of snow of up to six-foot as residents are struggling with a power outage

Homes in Tonawanda in Erie County have been entirely buried in blankets of snow of up to six-foot as residents are struggling with a power outage

Ice adorns a fountain in Charleston, South Carolina, with the temperatures plummeting to 0C (32F)

 Ice adorns a fountain in Charleston, South Carolina, with the temperatures plummeting to 0C (32F) 

Police in West Seneca warned people to stay inside as they posted footage from the car park of a Wegmans store showing the blistering snow that was whipping the car.

Officers were unable to see through the windscreen of their car as the storm rallied around them, meaning any visibility was nearly impossible.

The storm has swept from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande on The Mexican border – with thousands of flights being canceled and causing chaos in the air.

Drivers in Idaho have been urged to use ‘extreme caution’ if they are forced on the roads during the freezing rain warnings.

The water system in Jackson, Mississippi, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing ‘fluctuating’ pressure impacting residents on Saturday amid frigid temperatures.


Author: Dilip Kumar Sharma

This is Dilip Kumar Sharma years of experience in the field of journalism, Dilip Kumar Sharma heads the editorial operations of the Elite News as the Executive Reporter.

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