Buffalo Blizzard May Be Worst in City History

Christmas storm is 'like a Category 3 hurricane with a bunch of snow mixed in'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2022 7:40 AM CST
Buffalo Blizzard May Be the Worst in City History
The Firestone family makes their way across Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, NY, after stocking up on supplies at the grocery store, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022.   (Derek Gee /The Buffalo News via AP)

The greater Buffalo region is currently doing anything but waxing poetic about a white Christmas, dreaming instead of simpler things like power and heat as the winter storm that battered the nation takes an especially brutal swing at Western New York. Buffalo, no stranger to snow, is currently enduring what is "at least ... near the top of the list of worst blizzards in the city’s history, if not even ... the worst," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda says. "Four to 6 feet of snow will fall by Sunday and coupled with wind gusts approaching hurricane force [74mph or greater] to create enormous drifts and impossible travel."

At least seven people have died so far, including people who froze to death outside. Officials warned the death toll could rise. Two of the fatalities were people who suffered medical emergencies and who responders weren't able to reach in time amid trips to the hospital that were taking up to three hours. Meanwhile, thousands are currently without power and are expected to remain without it through the holiday weekend, reports the Buffalo News. The storm kicked off with 1.98 inches of rain on Friday, which shattered a daily record going back to 1878. An Arctic snap quickly turned that to heavy snow that saw the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport record zero visibility for 16 hours from midday Friday into early Saturday, and had closed the airport until 11am Monday.

Driving in Erie County was banned Saturday, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that nearly every firetruck in the county was stranded and unable to respond to emergencies, per Axios. The city of Buffalo and at least six suburbs were without emergency services, due in large part to the number of first responders' vehicles that were stranded in the snow. "It's like a Category 3 hurricane with a bunch of snow mixed in," Chief Tim Carney of the Erie County Sheriff's Office tells the News. (More Buffalo stories.)

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