NEW YORK (Reuters) – A massive early snowstorm pounded the Buffalo, New York, area on Tuesday, dumping record snowfalls, trapping people in cars and homes, and killing four people, authorities said.
Temperatures in all 50 US states dipped to freezing or below on Tuesday as an unseasonably cold blast of weather moved across the country, while heavy snow prompted a state of emergency in western New York.
In the US South, states were bracing for a record chill from the Arctic-born cold that swept the Rocky Mountains last week.
Every US state, including Hawaii, was bitten by temperatures at the freezing point of 0 C or below, the National Weather Service said.
Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, had low temperatures of -1 C, said NWS spokeswoman Susan Buchanan.
The morning was the coldest overall across the country in November since 1976, according to Weather Bell Analytics, a meteorologist consulting firm. Typically, such cold is not seen until late December through February, the NWS said.
In western New York, a storm dropped several feet of snow, prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency for 10 counties. National Guard troops were deployed to help residents cope with the storm, which was expected to last for days.
A total of 0.9 to 1.2 metres of snow was expected in many areas of western New York and as much as 1.8 metres elsewhere, the NWS said.
A 225-km stretch of the New York State Thruway along Lakes Erie and Ontario was closed. Bans on driving were implemented in some places.
In lake-effect storms typical of western New York, snow can be heavy in some areas yet light in others. Residents of north Buffalo reported scarcely an inch of snow, while residents a few miles south had two feet or more.
Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air moves across warmer waters such as the Great Lakes and can dump heavy accumulation.
In Florida, freezing temperatures were expected through Wednesday morning, the NWS said.