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The Repercussions of Buffalo’s Historic Blizzard

With essentially enough snow to engulf a metropolis, Buffalo, New York has received 60 inches of snowfall between November 17th and 18th alone, setting a new 24-hour state record. Knocking down precedents one by one, the year was Buffalo’s third-snowiest November, according to the local weather service office.

The initial mystique and severity of the storm comes with numerous hardships like closing roads, driving bans, canceling flights the weekend before a travel heavy Thanksgiving, and even fatalities. At least four deaths can be blamed on the blizzard. According to an Erie County official, three residents passed away after suffering cardiac issues while attempting to handle the masses of snow. The fourth death, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, occurred when a city of Buffalo employee perished after being struck by a high loader during the active snow removal in South Buffalo.

In a testimony, Matthew Latko, the division director of the New York State Thruway Authority in Buffalo, and a triple decade resident of the city, called it “the biggest storm ever”. He explained, “I don’t think anybody in the country put in what our guys did and the recovery time that we had.” Additionally, Buffalo Mayor, Byron Brown, offered his two cents to CNN, discussing how, while heavy snow is not new to his city, this is “much more than we usually get.” He said the city, assuming the worst of the storm passed through by Sunday, could hopefully return to “some sense of normalcy” in the next few days. He continued to say, “This has been a very unpredictable storm with the snow bands moving back and forth, north to south. The snow has come down very fast, very wet, very heavy.” The disastrous natural phenomenon even had a federal impact. On Monday, Nov. 21, President Joe Biden and FEMA approved a request for a federal Emergency Declaration for 11 counties in northern and western New York in order to provide immediate federal funding for the impacted counties to support ongoing response and rescue operations.

Statistically though, just how bad has this blizzard been? The National Weather Service office in Buffalo noticed a weather pattern that initiated this historic lake-effect snow event as this year’s storm shared similarities with another historic lake-effect storm. In November 2014, a storm was dubbed "Snowvember," where nearly the same amount of snow fell upon the area. So far in the late 2022 storm, snowfall totals over 6 feet have been recorded in two locations, according to the National Weather Service. Areas northeast of Lake Ontario–from central Jefferson County to northern Lewis County–were inundated with heavy snow late Friday, when the snowfall rate was up to 3 inches per hour. Places between Watertown and Harrisville were also seeing treacherous conditions.

The weather threw off numerous scheduled events as well, such as cancellations of dozens of flights arriving and departing from Buffalo Niagara International Airport as storm conditions worsened. Further, Orchard Park, where the NFL’s Buffalo Bills play, has picked up 77.0 inches in the 48 hours, and Natural Bridge, just east of Watertown, has picked up 72.3 inches. The buried Buffalo Southtown of Orchard Park, New York, where the Buffalo Bills were originally scheduled to host the Cleveland Browns at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 20th was obviously unfit to host the game. However, the game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit out of an abundance of caution considering the ongoing weather emergency in western New York.


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