UPDATE (11/20/14): The Buffalo area found itself buried under as much as 5½ feet of snow Wednesday, with another lake-effect storm expected to bring 2 to 3 more feet by late today. That could be almost 9 feet of snow!
Buffalo, New York has it bad with 5 deaths and more than 100 trapped!
Troopers in all-terrain vehicles set out Wednesday to reach drivers trapped in a ferocious winter storm that dumped 5 feet of snow outside Buffalo, New York — with plenty more on the way.
More than 130 miles of Interstate 90, the main artery running east and west across New York state, remained closed, with no word when it would reopen. More than 100 cars were reported trapped on Tuesday night.
Authorities in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, reported a fifth death, a 46-year-old man found in a car. Four were reported Tuesday, one in a car crash and three from heart attacks, including two people who were shoveling snow.
The towns south of Buffalo were believed to be the hardest hit, but snow totals were hard to come by. The National Weather Service said some places could approach the record for a single-day snowfall in the United States, 6 feet 4 inches.
In the early hours of Wednesday, a college basketball team had to be rescued after their bus got stuck in heavy snow for 26 hours about 50 miles from their home campus in Buffalo.
A crew of five people using two heavy-duty snowplows finally cleared a path to free the Niagara University Purple Eagles women’s team, including players, coaches and relatives.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Rene Polka, the director of women’s basketball, told NBC News by phone after the rescue. “It was dark when we first became trapped early Tuesday, but when the sun came up we saw how bad it was. Then it literally did not stop snowing all day, so we thought we might have been trapped for a lot longer.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 10 counties, and the National Guard was activated to help clean up. The state deployed 526 snowplows and 17 large snow blowers.
The weather service warned that 3 to 8 more inches of snow could fall Wednesday, and up to 2 feet more by Thursday night outside Buffalo.
It was a lake-effect snowstorm, building up as it swept across Lake Erie, thrashing some places but sparing others. Lancaster, New York, recorded 5 feet of snow. Six miles away, the Buffalo airport got less than 4 inches.
The snow pattern was part of a punishing blast of cold air so broad that temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below. Twenty deaths in all were reported across the country since Saturday.