BUFFALO, NY (WNY News Now) – Two people died in a storm Friday that paralyzed parts of Western New York, with three feet of snow on the ground in some places by early afternoon.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced the weather-related deaths, tweeting they were “associated with cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing.”
“Unfortunately, we must report the passing of two Erie County residents,” wrote Poloncarz. “We send our deepest sympathies and remind all that this snow is very heavy and dangerous.”
Residents in south of Buffalo awoke to blowing, heavy snow, punctuated by occasional claps of thunder, while just a few miles north, only a few inches had fallen overnight and there were patches of blue sky.
The storm’s severity varied widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by frigid winds picking up moisture from the warmer lakes, and dumping snow in narrow bands.
The National Weather Service reported two feet of snow in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with bands of heavier precipitation bringing 36 inches in the suburbs of Hamburg and Orchard Park.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The declaration covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic banned from a stretch of Interstate 90.
The most intense snowfall was expected to last through Friday evening, with more falling on Saturday into Sunday.