Incredible time-lapse video shows six feet of snow blanketing Buffalo during storm that left six dead – and there’s more on the way

Trapped in the big freeze: Eight dead, up to SIX FEET of snow in Buffalo – and cold blast brings temperatures down to 20F in NYC

  • The storm has caused at least eight deaths in New York, New Hampshire and Michigan, according to authorities 
  • Up to six feet of snow could fall in western New York between Tuesday and Wednesday night 
  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo has mobilized the National Guard to help western New York dig out from the storm
  • Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile stretch of Interstate 90 across New York state
  • Temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below on Tuesday – more like January than November
  • Cold will continue Thursday and Friday – and into the weekend before it warms on Sunday and Monday 

Six feet of snow is falling on western New York, trapping residents in their homes, collapsing roofs, caving in doors and stranding drivers on highways. A 132-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway remains closed today and even winter-hardened ‘snow belt’ natives are struggling to deal with the brutal deluge.

The early winter storms and bitter temperatures have already been blamed for at least eight deaths across three states – including a man in Buffalo, New York, who was found dead in his car, covered in several feet of snow after he crashed into a ditch.

The rest of the country was forced to bundle up again today as temperatures continue to clock in at 15 to 20 degrees below average for this time of year.

It was even colder today in many parts of the country than it was on terrible Tuesday. This means lows of 20 degrees in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and single digits across most of the Midwest – including nine degrees in Chicago.

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Snow smash: The incredible snowfall – five feet in just a matter of hours – caved in roofs and even smashed through the doors of this Buffalo, New York, home

Lake effect: The view from the sky above Buffalo, New York, shows the lake effect snow storm moving into the city from Lake Erie. Lake effect snow has caused nearly all of the snowfall in the last two days – mostly in Upstate New York and western Michigan

A band of storm clouds moves across Lake Erie and into Buffalo, New York on Tuesday. Parts of New York measured the season’s first big snowfall in feet, rather than inches, as three feet of lake-effect snow blanketed the Buffalo area and forced the closure of a 132-mile stretch of the state Thruway

Cold enough: Wednesday has proved even colder than terrible Tuesday – with lows of 20 degrees in New York City and Washington, D.C., and single digits across the Midwest. Pictured here, a house in Buffalo, New York, where temperatures dipped to 13

Stranded: The Niargara University wpmen’s basketball team was stranded on the New York State Thruway in western New York for 26 hours until they could be rescued. About 150 motorists spent the night in their cars

Frozen: Air travel was also hit by delays thanks to the snow – above is a Delta Airlines plan at Buffalo Greater International Airport

Even the South is experiencing a record-breaking deep-freeze, with temperatures dropping to 31 in Houston, 30 in New Orleans, 28 degrees in the Florida panhandle and 21 in Atlanta.

The bitter cold snap will continue for the rest of the week, with lows in the teens in the Midwest, 20s in the Northeast and mid-30s in the South for Thursday and Friday.

The storm stranded about 150 people in their cars on the New York State Thruway for hours Tuesday night and Wednesday – including the Niagara University women’s basketball team.

Some got so thirsty they drank melted snow, said Coach Kenra Faustin, who was traveling with her 1-year-old.

Team spokeswoman Chelsea Andorka said the bus, with about 25 players and coaches aboard, was headed back from a loss in Pittsburgh when it came to a halt at 2am on Tuesday.

‘We were told the National Guard was coming by but haven’t seen any signs of life,’ Andorka said.

‘The first time they came they told us to be prepared to stay for a while. One tow truck passed six or seven hours ago.

Warmer weekends: Friday will still be cold and miserable for most of the country, but Sunday and Monday are expected to see average – or even above average – temperatures return

More snow: Up to 18 inches of additional snow could hit western New York today, adding to the six feet that’s already on the ground in the region


Snow belt: Lake Erie is causing the record-setting amount of snowfall in Buffalo, New York, thanks to the ‘lake effect’

The incredible six feet of snow that has fallen on western New York – along with big storms in western Michigan, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin –  is due to the phenomenon called lake effect snow.

Lake effect snow can cause sudden and heavy snow storms – and it’s usually worse earlier in the season.

Large bodies of water like the Great Lakes retain heat from the summer – meaning they can be much warmer than the air, especially during an unseasonable cold snap like this one.

Lake Erie is currently 45 degrees – compared with lows of 13 degrees in Buffalo, New York, which is on the eastern shore of the lake.

When frigid winds blow across the warmer water, they pick up large amounts of water.

When those winds make landfall, the clouds – traveling across the cold land – release their haul of snow.

Because Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are wider, east winds can travel the entire length of the lakes, picking up water during their entire journey.

This is why western New York is known as the ‘snowbelt,’ often getting more than 100 inches of snow each year.

It also explains how six feet of snow can fall during a mid-November cold snap.

The bigger the difference between the water temperature and the air temperature, the heavier the potential snow storms become. As winter progresses and the water temperature drops, lake effect snow often becomes less intense.

‘It seemed like a nightmare. It just didn’t feel like it was going to end,’ Bryce Foreback, 23, of Shicora, Pennsylvania, told The Associated Press by cellphone 20 hours into his wait for help. ‘I haven’t slept in like 30 hours and I’m just waiting to get out of here.’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed 150 members of the National Guard to help clear the cars from the road during a brief lull between storms. A state of emergency, declared on Tuesday, remains in effect for parts of the region and officials are telling people to stay inside and off the roads.

By Wednesday, 100 cars remained on the New York State Thruway. A 132-mile stretch of the vital highway remains closed because snowplows cannot clear the road due to the stuck cars.

Authorities are hoping to clear them by later today.

Amtrak has also suspended train service to and from western New York as crews work to clear tracks of the heavy pileup.

Airports in Buffalo and Grand Rapids, Michigan, were forced to cancel flights as a result of the snow.

Authorities say there is so much accumulation that it can’t just be plowed in most places – it must be scooped up and hauled away in order to clear roads.

Nobody dreams of a white November: It seems this resident of Buffalo gave up after trying to shovel out of their home

Coming through: Freight trains are plowing their way through western New York, though Amtrak has suspended passenger rail service to the region

Digging out: A man in Buffalo labors to shovel out his driveway in the wake of the snowstorm. Several people have died of heart attacks while shoveling

Stuck: Cars are snowed under across the country, leaving drivers with hours of work if they want to leave

Daunting task: Many residents of Lancaster, New York, haven’t even begun to clear their driveways

The storms in Michigan and Upstate New York are the result of lake effect snow. Lake effect snow is the result of cold winds blasting across the relatively surfaces of the Great Lakes, which tend to retain heat, picking up moisture as they go.

When that cold, moist air makes landfall, it can result in sudden, massive snow storms. The squalls can be surprisingly isolated. Some part of Buffalo got nearly five feet of snow on Tuesday. Others escaped with just a few inches.

In a region accustomed to highway-choking snowstorms, this one is being called one of the worst in memory.

Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile stretch of the Thruway, the main highway across New York state.

Meteorologists say temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below on Tuesday. They say the low temperatures were more reminiscent of January than November.

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, icy roads led to accidents. Lake-effect storms in Michigan produced gale-force winds and as much as 18 inches of snow, and canceled several flights at the Grand Rapids airport.

Schools closed in the North Carolina mountains amid blustery winds and ice-coated roads. In Indiana, three firefighters were hurt when a semitrailer hit a fire truck on a snowy highway.

In Atlanta, tourists Morten and Annette Larsen from Copenhagen were caught off-guard by the 30-degree weather as they took photos of a monument to the 1996 summer Olympics at Centennial Olympic Park.

‘It’s as cold here as it is in Denmark right now. We didn’t expect that,’ Larsen said, waving a hand over his denim jacket, buttoned tightly over a hooded sweatshirt.

Neighbors pulled out their tractors on Wednesday to help dig out from the heavy snow fall, which topped 60 inches in some places

Put the kids to work: Braeden Attig, 11, has been given the daunting task of digging out his mother’s car in Orchard Park, New York

Cabin fever? This gentleman appeared to be enjoying the snow a bit too much

The outside coming in: Chrissy Gritzke Hazard, of Cheektowaga, New York, snapped these pictures after the incredible snow that piled up smashed through her doors and into her house

No walkies! A dog in Buffalo, New York, is left stuck inside after a storm dumped several feet of snow on Tuesday

No way out: This New York resident showed how snow blocked off the entrance to her garage – blocking her from leaving her house to get fuel

Making the best of it: Some western New York residents, hardened by life in the Great White North, used the massive snow as an excuse to have a little fun

In Buffalo, Brian Krzeminski watched the snow pile up outside the south Buffalo convenience store where he worked overnight and served free coffee to the motorists and pedestrians who came in off the city streets to get out of the blinding snow.

‘There are people that came out to get a few things. We had some people who came in just to get a 30-pack of beer, which is kind of odd,’ he said. ‘We’ve had EMTs whose ambulance got stuck. I’m constantly seeing cars get stuck.’

The National Weather Service warned that the snow, generated by cold air blowing over the warmer Great Lakes, would continue through Wednesday and could eventually total 6 feet in places. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed 150 member of the National Guard to help clear snow-clogged roads and remove abandoned vehicles.

‘We have tried to get out of our house and we are lucky to be able to shovel so we can open the door. Basically, that’s it, open the door,’ said Linda Oakley of Buffalo. ‘We’re just thinking that in case of an emergency we can at least get out the door. We can’t go any further.’

‘All around us, it’s a solid 4 feet of snow that is so thick and so heavy you can hardly move it with a shovel,’ said Oakley, whose son Todd was with her, unable to make it to work just three miles away.

Jim Lehmann was hunkering down with his wife in their town of Hamburg home, while outside his neighbor’s house was barely visible through the blowing snow.

‘The main thing to do now is sit in the house and wait it out,’ Lehmann said. ‘My neighbor works for a satellite dish company and he tried to get out this morning and he got stuck 80 feet down the street. And he was there for three hours.’

The town of West Seneca recorded 45 inches by late morning and Alden, to the east, had 48 inches. But typical of lake-effect snow, areas just a few miles away, including downtown and north Buffalo, had just a couple of inches.

At one point, nearly half of West Seneca’s plows were bogged down in heavy snow, officials told The Buffalo News. In neighboring Orchard Park, the highway superintendent called the rate of snowfall ‘unbelievable,’ while next door in Hamburg police cars were getting stuck.

Oakley and her son, Todd, were passing the time watching ‘Dumb and Dumber’ on Netflix.

‘We can’t even walk down to the end of the street and get ourselves a pizza,’ she said, laughing. ‘Maybe if you had snow shoes, I don’t know.’

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