National Guard activated amid deadly western New York snow storm that has dropped more than 6 feet of snow in region

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday the activation of the National Guard to help clear the historic and deadly blizzard that ravaged parts of western New York.

Hochul has also announced that she is filing a request “for a Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration to unlock critical funds” to support state response efforts.

There are 150 National Guard members on the ground in the hard-hit southtowns, or the southern part of Erie County, home to Buffalo.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the National Guard was on site Saturday afternoon to “pick up and deliver people in need of dialysis,” according to a tweet.

Intense snowfall continued overnight in the region, hitting Buffalo hard, Daniel Neaverth, the Erie County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Services Commissioner, said at a news conference Saturday. The rate of snowfall is up to 3 inches per hour, he said.

Snowfall will continue to hit the Great Lakes region this weekend, with lake-effect snow, which occurs when arctic air rushes over the relatively milder waters of the Great Lakes.

Erie County was hardest hit by the snowfall, where two men died Friday after “heart problems” caused by shoveling or blowing snow. At Orchard Park, southeast of Buffalo, nearly 5 feet of snow had fallen by 7 a.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Hamburg, where the roof of a bowling alley collapsed under the weight of the heavy, sleet, received more than six feet of snow, while southwest Blasdell had more than five feet of snow.

Natural Bridge in Jefferson County also had seven feet of snow.

There were 88 crashes in Erie County and 280 people had to be rescued, Hochul said at a news conference Saturday.

Just over 200 customers are without power in Erie County due to the snowstorm, according to poweroutage.us. This number has dropped from 998 customers who had no power on Saturday morning.

Buffalo has had about a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service. The city’s daily maximum snowfall record was also broken, with 16.1 inches of snowfall in one day on Saturday. The previous record of 7.6 inches in one day was set in 2014.

Mayor Byron Brown says the snowfall will end early Sunday morning, but the city could reach up to 10 inches before then.

“Unfortunately, it looks like more snow is coming,” Brown said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. “We expect more snow to fall, roughly predicted, 8 to another 10 inches of snow in the city of Buffalo, ending sometime around 1 a.m..”

In Buffalo, three heating centers opened Saturday for residents without power to seek shelter, Brown announced on Twitter.

Buffalo Airport temporarily closed their runways on Friday night she reopened Saturday morning.

Sunday’s NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns has been moved to Detroit. The team shared a video of quarterback Josh Allen walking to a plane to go to Detroit on Saturday night.


A person walks through the snow Friday in Buffalo, NY. Joshua Bessex/AP

The heavy lake-effect snow is expected to shift north and through Buffalo on Saturday, hitting the Niagara Falls area Saturday afternoon. The strongest bands will shift south Saturday night into Sunday, with expected snowfall of 1 to 2 inches per hour.

The storm is then expected to shift back south into the areas already badly affected.

An additional 8 to 16 inches of snow is possible, with some isolated locations picking up an additional 12 to 25 inches in the Oswego County area.

The snow starts to decrease in the night from Sunday to Monday. Strong wind gusts of up to 40 mph are also possible, causing extreme blizzard conditions and near-zero visibility.

About 4 million are under lake impact warnings stretching from Cleveland to Watertown, NY. Most of the warnings expire Sunday afternoon, but a few will stick around for the Oswego area until Monday.


A man uses a snow blower to clear snow in Hamburg, NY
A man uses a snow blower to clear snow in Hamburg, NY, on Friday.John Normile/Getty Images

Officials continue to warn against unnecessary travel if many streets are still not plowedsaid Poloncarz.

A travel ban has been put in place for most of Erie County, including the entire city of Buffalo, according to a tweet from Poloncarz. The ban will be lowered to a travel advisory in the eastern, northern and western parts of Buffalo at 2 p.m. Saturday because of progress in the city, but will remain in the hard-hit south, according to Brown.

“If you come out, you risk getting stuck and really interfering with our plowing and snow clearing operations,” Brown warned.

So far, New York State Police have issued 392 tickets to people for violating the driving ban, mostly for commercial trucks, Hochul said.

Residents are also encouraged to avoid shoveling the heavy, wet snow and avoid overexertion if they must shoveling.

A state of emergency remains in effect in Buffalo and 11 counties in the west and northwest of the state near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Brittany Kubicko and Courtney Brogle contributed.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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