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Buffalo, N.Y., braces for another wallop of lake-effect snow as storms continue

Residents of western New York state were digging out Saturday morning from a dangerous lake-effect snowstorm that had dropped more than 1.8 metres of snow in some areas and caused several deaths.

Several deaths attributed to storms in New York state and Indiana as winter announces its arrival

A man uses a snowblower
Martin Haslinger uses a snowblower outside his home in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday as the region digs out from a major lake-effect storm that dropped about 1.8 metres of snow and has caused at least three deaths. More snow is expected later on Saturday. (Bridget Haslinger/The Associated Press)

A massive storm has dumped several feet of snow in the areas ringing Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, causing at least three deaths, forcing an NFL game to be moved and creating gridlock as tractor-trailers detoured onto smaller roads to avoid a closure of part of Interstate 90 in western New York.

The lake-effect storm had produced more than 1.8 metres (six feet) of snow in some areas by Saturday morning. The Buffalo metro area was hit particularly hard, with some areas south of the city bearing the brunt. The front had begun to move northward from Buffalo by Saturday, but forecasts called for more snow as Monday approached.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, the suburb of Orchard Park, home to the NFL's Buffalo Bills, reported 196 centimetres by early Saturday. About 129 kilometres northeast of the city, the hamlet of Natural Bridge, near the Fort Drum Army base, reported about 1.8 metres.

The inundation forced the National Football League to move Sunday's game between the Bills and Cleveland Browns to Detroit.

The National Weather Service predicted partial sunshine and a break from the snow on Saturday in New York, but not for long.

"Later on this evening and through early next week, we're expecting another round of lake-effect snow for much of western New York," National Weather Service meteorologist Zack Taylor told The Associated Press.

Taylor, based in College Park, Md., said that could produce as much as 38 centimetres of snow for areas near Lake Erie and 61 centimetres for areas near Lake Ontario.

WATCH | New York digs out after massive snowstorm: 

Western New York residents dig out after massive snowstorm

16 days ago
Duration 0:57
A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm dropped more than 1.8 metres of snow in some areas of western New York and caused several deaths.

In the Buffalo area, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz posted on Twitter that two people died "associated with cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing." A third person — a snowplow driver in the town of Hamlet, Ind. — was killed on Friday when his plow slid off the pavement and rolled over, the Starke County Sheriff's Office said. Hamlet is located about 48 kilometres from Lake Michigan.

In other tweets, Poloncarz expressed frustration at reports of trucks getting stuck on smaller roads as they tried to get around the I-90 detour. A video posted online showed a line of trucks backed up on a street in Orchard Park.

The storm's effects varied widely in the region due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by frigid winds picking up moisture from warmer lakes and dumping snow in narrow bands. Some areas of Buffalo were battered by blowing, heavy snow off Lake Erie, while mere kilometres away, residents only had to contend with a few centimetres.

Driving ban in effect

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called in the National Guard, deploying about 150 members to help with snow removal and resident needs in the hardest-hit parts of Erie County.

At a news conference on Saturday afternoon, Hochul said she would sign a request for a federal emergency declaration to seek reimbursements for expenses on storm response.

A man skis in Buffalo New York on a residential street.
A resident uses cross-country skis on a street in Buffalo on Saturday. (Lindsay DeDario/Reuters)

Nearly 90 crashes have been reported and almost 290 people were rescued from roads, Hochul said.

Poloncarz said most residents heeded driving bans and stayed home, which he believes averted tragedies.

"We've avoided a lot of the incidents and accidents that unfortunately have taken lives in the past," he said at the news event in Hamburg, N.Y., one of the hardest-hit areas. "I believe lives have been saved."

Buffalo has experience with dramatic lake-effect snowstorms, few worse than the one that struck in November 2014. That epic storm dumped two metres of snow on some communities over three days, collapsing roofs, claiming the lives of more than at dozen people and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles on a lakeside stretch of the New York State Thruway.

A car with a mountain of snow on its roof.
A vehicle with a small mountain of snow on the roof heads along a street in Buffalo during the lake-effect snowstorm on Friday. (Lindsay DeDario/Reuters)

With files from Reuters

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