Historic Buffalo blizzard kills more than 20, leaves thousands without power

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Western New York is digging out from a historic blizzard that brought feet of snow, frigid temperatures and chaos to the region, and which is blamed for one of the worst weather-related disasters in Buffalo’s history.

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Update 9:20 p.m. Dec. 26: The death toll for the blizzard in Buffalo, New York, has risen to at least 28, according to The Associated Press.

The National Weather Service reported that up to 9 more inches of snow could fall in parts of western New York through Tuesday, according to the AP.

Update 2:12 p.m. Dec. 26: Airport officials announced Monday that the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will remain closed until Wednesday due to the weather, WGRZ reported. Officials said the airport is scheduled to open Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 11 a.m.

Original report: Officials said Monday that the death toll had risen to 27, with victims found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks, The Associated Press reported.

Roads are impassable in many areas and more than 12,000 people did not have power Monday, as forecasters predicted as much as a foot of additional snow, The Washington Post reported. In a news conference on Monday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz emphasized the scope of the disaster.

“This is the worst storm probably in our lifetime and maybe in the history of the city,” Poloncarz said at the news conference. “And this is not the end yet.”

The blizzard conditions began Friday and roared through Saturday, stranding drivers and knocking out power ahead of the Christmas holiday. The storm was part of a larger winter system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande, with approximately 60% of the U.S. population facing a winter weather advisory or warning, the AP reported.

Erie County placed travel bans in effect for several cities, which remain in effect as the city braces for more lake-effect snow in the forecast, WKBW reported.

“People are dying in cars, that’s the reality of it,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, WRGZ reported. He urged people to stay off the roads.

Between 4 and 8 more inches are forecast in the city before the system moves south, The New York Times reported.

Buffalo has seen a whopping 92.7 inches of snow so far this year, making it not only the most snow to start the year for the city, but also putting Buffalo just 2.7 inches behind its typical entire season snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials said Buffalo Niagara International Airport would remain closed through Tuesday morning, according to the AP.

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