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historic winter storm: Death toll in historic winter storm hits 50; Buffalo, NY, preps for more snow in worst blizzard in 4 decades

historic winter storm: The death toll from a historic onslaught of winter weather across the U.S. rose to at least 50 Monday as frigid arctic air and heavy lake-effect snow left large swaths of the U.S. frozen.

The pre-Christmas winter storm left at least 28 dead in western New York – one of the worst weather-related disasters in the region’s history after the area was pummelled with as much as 43 inches of snow. The dead have been found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow. The death toll across the country was expected to rise as many remained without power in the frigid temperatures and hazardous road conditions continue.

Buffalo, New York, has seen some of the worst damage from the storm, including hurricane-force winds and whiteout conditions from snow that left emergency response vehicles stranded on highways and roads.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz described the blizzard as “the worst storm probably in our lifetime” and warned there may be more dead. Some people, he noted, were stranded in their cars for more than two days.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime, generational blizzard,” he said of the impacts to the county, which includes Buffalo. “And this is not the end yet.”

President Joe Biden spoke by phone to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday, offering federal assistance to the state as it recovers from the storm.

While warmer temperatures are forecast for later in the week, the area is still expected to receive 6 to 12 inches more of heavy, lake-effect snow between Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service station in Buffalo.

Much of New England and the Eastern coast will remain in a deep freeze until more moderate temperatures arrive Tuesday, the weather service said Monday, and lake-effect snow could continue to cause travel hazards until they slowly improve later in the week.

Only 12.3 inches of new snow fell at the Buffalo Airport during the 1977 blizzard, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, compared to more than 40 inches in this week’s storm. Blizzard-condition winds occurred for nine consecutive hours and zero visibility lasted for 13 consecutive hours.

Powerful winds instead blew loose snow from previous storms that winter from frozen Lake Erie onto land, creating huge snowdrifts and fully burying houses and cars alike.

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