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Buffalo, New York continues to dig itself out of record-breaking snowfall that has ravaged the metropolitan hub and its surrounding areas for the last week via a weather phenomenon known as “thundersnow.” Meanwhile, a second band of lake-effect snow has descended upon cities and towns in the Western New York (WNY) region already paralyzed by as much as six feet of snow.
Thundersnow is a rare weather event in which wet air blowing in from the Great Lakes region–in this case, Lake Erie–is so much warmer than the ambient (air) temperature in the region. The result of which produces thunderstorms that drop snow as opposed to rain. This oddity is referred to as thundersnow.
In addition to record-setting snowfall and hampered rescue efforts that have plagued the Buffalo, NY-area and its surrounding regions, authorities have confirmed eight deaths linked to the storm thus far. The eighth victim of the ravaging snowfall was a 60-year-old man with a pre-existing heart condition, who was stricken while operating a snowblower, according to officials in Buffalo, which is situated in Erie County.
As Buffalo and other WNY communities continue to grapple with the aftermath of ravaging thundersnow, nearly 150 miles of Interstate 90 (I-90), which is the main thruway running east and west across New York State, remained closed from Rochester, NY to the New York-Pennsylvania state line. There was no word when it would reopen.
Troopers in all-terrain vehicles and emergency rescue crews worked without sleep in an effort to reach drivers still trapped in the first wave of the ravaging storm. More than 150 cars were reported trapped at one time as drivers ran out of food and patience. The stranded motorists included school buses as well as a Greyhound bus that was stranded for almost 36 hours on I-90. As passengers stared out the windows at a highway littered with abandoned cars, the charter bus was powered on a generator. As a result, the passengers could charge their phones, but they were hungry and had grown tired of their dilemma. After a day and a half, the passengers were finally rescued by a state trooper.
Additional help was deployed to the thundersnow-ravaged region of Buffalo and its surrounding areas when Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) declared a state of emergency for 10 counties in New York affected by the record-setting snowfall, as well as dispatched the National Guard to the region to assist in storm recovery efforts. The state of emergency included the following affected counties: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Franklin, Wyoming, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Oswego, and Lewis. More than 150 soldiers and airmen were expected to report for storm duty, according to Cuomo’s office. The responders included soldiers from the 827th Engineer Company in Horseheads and the 152nd Engineer company in Buffalo, as well as airmen from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which houses the 107th Airlift Wing, were also expected to respond to the affected areas. Meanwhile, as Buffalo and other WNY communities continued storm recovery efforts in the aftermath of ravaging thundersnow, travel bans and advisories remained in effect that urged drivers to stay off the roads, so that state agencies as well as the National Guard could assist those that needed help. Here is a stunning video clip of the thundersnow effect that has ravaged the Buffalo and Western New York area.
By Leigh Haugh
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