A deadly snowstorm hit New York over the holiday weekend that killed more than two dozen people and left thousands without power. According to The Buffalo News, city officials confirmed at least 27 deaths in Erie and Niagara counties due to the blizzard.
Buffalo police spokesperson Michael J. DeGeorge said at 8:45 a.m. this morning (Dec. 26), the death toll in Buffalo had risen to 20 people due to the snowstorm. Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz confirmed three deaths each in Amherst and Cheektowaga. And Niagara County on Sunday (Dec. 25) reported one confirmed storm death; a 27-year-old Lockport man who passed on Sunday from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We have many more 911 calls regarding dead bodies that we are also working diligently to get to to confirm and recover,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. “We are also working very hard to complete welfare checks in an effort to reduce potential deaths,” he added.
He said the deaths were of people found outside and in cars and from individuals who had “cardiac-related events” while removing snow from outside of their homes and businesses. Both Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said on Sunday that they expect the number of deaths to rise.
“We can see, sort of, the light at the end of the tunnel. But this is not the end yet. We are not there,” said Poloncarz.
According to Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, the snowstorm is expected to end tomorrow morning, with between four and eight more inches expected to fall in parts of the region.
He added that the snow is anticipated to be “very fluffy” with very little wind in the forecast. Hitchcock also said Buffalo shouldn’t expect the same level of blizzard-like conditions it experienced over the weekend.
Today (Dec. 26), the Weather Service said more than 49 inches of snow was recorded over three days at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the highest total in Erie County. Jefferson County received between 22 and 41 inches, Niagara County recorded up to 24 inches and Lewis County saw up to 30 inches of snow over the same period.
More than 12,000 customers remained without power in Erie County. Mr. Poloncarz said electricity “might not get restored until Tuesday (Dec. 27)” because of damage to utilities from the storm. Officials announced the Buffalo airport would remain closed until Tuesday morning.