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Christmas Week Blizzard Among Worst in Buffalo History, US Death Toll Tops 50

The intense storm that caused wind and flood damage across New England was a much different storm for other parts of the country. New England was on the warm side, with temperatures not plummeting until after the storm had passed. What transpired on the cold side of the storm in upstate New York gave New England a glimpse of what could have been here. It could have been among the worst blizzards in New England history as well.

The intense storm combined with the arctic blast of air has now claimed the lives of over fifty people. Twenty seven of those deaths occurred in upstate New York. This is the deadliest winter storm to strike the great lakes since the infamous blizzard of 1977. Parts of Buffalo and the surrounding area received upwards of four feet of snow. The snowfall was exasperated in the area by lake-effect action. It is rare for a lake-effect event to produce blizzard conditions.

The governor of New York has described Buffalo simply as a "war zone". The blizzard conditions came with arctic air, with wind chills dropping well below zero. Some people were stranded while attempting to drive and faced arctic air. Some were found frozen to death inside of their cars. Tragic stories continue to emerge from the storm. Among the first deaths was William Clay. The Daily Mail reported:

"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."

Countless numbers of rescues have taken place in the area over the last few days. A county sheriff who lived through the blizzard of 1977 remarked that this storm was worse. This storm brought another major issue to the region: lake shore flooding. Buildings on the lake shore became encased in ice from spray and flooding coming off lake Erie.

This storm comes just over a month after an extreme lake effect event dumped as much as eighty inches of snow on upstate New York. Now, another system is gearing up to dump more snow on the area over the coming days.

Back in New England, storm cleanup in nearing completion as snow removal was a non factor. New England power outages are down to around 10,700 as of Monday evening. Over 17,000 in New York remain without power. New Englanders, even the ones who love snow, should be thankful our region did not see the blizzard conditions felt in New York.

Image from the Associated Press



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