BUFFALO (AP) – Piles of snow, in some places taller than most people, buried parts of western and northern New York as a lake-effect storm pounded areas east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario for a third straight day on Saturday, with possibly even more to come.
Snowfall totals as high as 196 centimetres were reported in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, home to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Partway across the state, the town of Natural Bridge, near the Fort Drum Army base, reported just under 1.8 metres.
The snowfall in some spots ranked among the highest ever recorded in the area, rivalling the amounts that fell during similar storms in 2014 and 1945.
The snowfall totals, which began accumulating on Thursday night in some spots, “would be on the order of historic not only for any time of year but for any part of the country”, said National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Pereira, at NWS headquarters in College Park, Maryland.
The lake-effect storm, caused by cold air picking up moisture from warmer lakes, created narrow bands of windblown snow that dumped feet of snow in some communities, while leaving towns a short drive away relatively unscathed.
It wreaked havoc on some roadways, as trucks that took to smaller backroads to avoid a closure on parts of an interstate in the area ended up in mass gridlock that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz described on social media as “tractor-trailer demo derby day”.
Partial sunshine and a break from the snow came in some of the hardest-hit areas south of Buffalo’s centre on Saturday as the snow bands shifted north.
Forecasters predicted several inches more could fall, although Pereira said different areas in the region were likely to be hit rather than totals increasing too much in the areas where the heaviest snows had already fallen.