BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Piles of snow, taller than most people in some places, buried parts of western and northern New York as a lake-effect storm pounded areas east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario for a third straight day Saturday , with more to come.
In Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, a whopping 196 inches of snow was reported. Midway across the state, the city of Natural Bridge, near the Fort Drum army base, reported just under six feet.
Snowfall in some places was among the highest on record in the area, comparable to the eye-watering amounts that fell during similar storms in 2014 and 1945.
The snowfall totals, which began piling up in some places Thursday night, “would be historic not only for any time of the year, but for any part of the country,” National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Pereira said on the NWS- headquarters in College Park, Maryland.
The lake-effect storm, caused by cold air picking up moisture from warmer lakes, created narrow bands of windblown snow that threw feet of snow in some communities, while leaving towns a short drive away relatively unscathed.
It wreaked havoc on some roads as trucks heading onto smaller byways to avoid a closure of parts of a highway in the area hit a mass standoff that Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz described on social media as ” demo derby day for tractors and trailers’. ”
It also wreaked havoc on the wedding plans of Robert Junge and Maria Szeglowski, who had chosen this day for their wedding after getting engaged exactly one year ago.
Their reception location has been canceled and will be moved to next week. The musician they hired for their church ceremony was also unable to make it, along with more than half of their expected 180 guests.
But they were determined and used one of the two limousines they rented to take the bride to the church, with Junge himself driving.
“Nothing would stop me from marrying her no matter what,” 35-year-old Junge of North Tonawanda, New York, told The Associated Press.
On the plus side, he said, the snow will make for “nice pictures.”
Due to the snowfall, the National Football League had to move Sunday’s game between the Bills and Cleveland Browns to Detroit.
Partial sunshine and a break from snow came to some of the hardest hit areas south of downtown Buffalo on Saturday as snow bands moved north.
Forecasters predicted several inches more could fall overnight from Saturday to Sunday, though Pereira said several areas in the region were more likely to be hit than totals would increase too much in areas where the heaviest snow had already fallen.
Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed about 70 National Guard members to help clear snow in some of the hardest hit areas.
Poloncarz tweeted that two people in the Buffalo area died “associated with cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snowblowing.”
The lake effect also dumped up to 2 feet of snow in some Michigan communities south of Lake Superior and east of Lake Michigan.
A snowplow driver in the town of Hamlet, Indiana, was killed Friday when his plow slid off the sidewalk and overturned, according to the Starke County Sheriff’s Department. Hamlet is about 30 miles from Lake Michigan.
Buffalo has experienced dramatic lake-effect blizzards little worse than the one in November 2014. That epic storm tossed 7 feet of snow on some communities in three days, causing roofs to collapse and entrap drivers in over 100 vehicles on a lakeside stretch of the New York State Thruway.
Associated Press correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this story from New York.