Western New York will be buried under 6 feet of snow in some areas

Updated November 19, 2022 at 4:31 PM ET

The residents of western New York got it right away More snow on Saturday after a severe winter storm battered the region on Friday, dropping more than in total 6 feet in some areas and the closure of schools and businesses.

The National Weather Service said snow was falling at a rate of two to three inches per hour in parts of Niagara County on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s nowhere to go,” Liz Jurkowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said Saturday. “At the moment major roads are closed because they are covered with snow. Basically, everyone here is just trying to dig themselves out.”

Jurkowski called the whopping 6 feet of snow one of the three heaviest snowfalls in recorded history for the Buffalo area. There hasn’t been this much snow since 2014.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday it could be the most 24-hour snowfall in New York history. She said she has deployed 150 National Guardsmen and is requesting a federal emergency declaration.

At least two people died of cardiac arrest while shoveling snow.

The NWS said wind gusts could reach up to 36mph. The agency also said a lake-effect snow warning would be in effect Sunday in Northern Erie and Genesee counties until 1 p.m. ET, and said travel could be “very difficult to impossible.”

Buffalo set a record for daily snowfall Saturday morning, amassing 16.1 inches by about 9:30 a.m

The Weather Bureau reported that some Erie County towns had received more than 5 feet of snow on Friday. Further north in the state, some parts of Jefferson County grew nearly 50 inches on Friday.

The following day, areas of the state east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario recorded totals greater than 6 feet.

In Hamburg, south of Buffalo, responders were struggling to reach people on Friday, WBFO’s Emyle Watkins told NPR. Other nearby cities weren’t nearly as badly affected, with some areas north of Buffalo getting just inches.

Crews worked around the clock to clear the wet, heavy snow that was falling faster than normal.

John Pilato, the city of Lancaster’s highway superintendent, said he tries to feed and rest his snow crews while they camp at the highway department.

“We bought as much food and food as we could to have these guys on hand. We bought some K-Cups so we can keep them a little caffeinated and fueled,” Pilato told Watkins. “It’s hard, it’s very hard. They’re not in their own bed, they’re in a chair, or they’re in a cot.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday declared a state of emergency that encompassed 11 counties in the western part of the state. This included a series of driving bans on local highways and roads.

Schools in Buffalo and around Erie County canceled classes Friday, while Amtrak closed area train stations.

The NFL also announced Thursday that a Buffalo Bills home game against the Cleveland Browns scheduled for this Sunday has been moved to Detroit in a decision that “has everything to do with security,” Bill executive vice president Ron Raccuia told ESPN .

Kyra Laurie, a college student who was stranded at her parents’ home south of Buffalo in Orchard Park in several feet of snow, told Watkins she was having a good time with her family but said the storm surprised her have.

“Being from Buffalo, you just assume you’re going to be able to drive through any type of blizzard, but I have a feeling this one was really aggressive,” Laurie said.

Stella, a golden retriever, plays in the snow after an intense lake-effect snowstorm hit the area Friday in Hamburg, NY

John Normile/Getty Images


Getty Images

Stella, a golden retriever, plays in the snow after an intense lake-effect snowstorm hit the area Friday in Hamburg, NY

The heavy snowfall is caused by the lake effect

The region is plagued by lake-effect snow, which occurs when cold air flows over a relatively warm body of water, picking up a lot of moisture and releasing it over land. Areas near lakes can experience snowfall rates of up to 3 inches per hour or more.

Colin Beier, associate professor SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry told NPR that the difference between sea and air temperatures in the region peaks by spring.

“It doesn’t surprise me that with that big shift to cold air you still have a warm lake if it’s pointing straight at a big city like Buffalo or anywhere that’s pointed, you’re going to get a lot of snow right now,” Beier said.

The post includes reports from WBFOs Emyl WatkinsWBFOs David Debo and Ava Pukatch from WRVO and The Associated Press.

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