• Several feet of snow have already fallen in some areas around Buffalo.
  • Winter weather has been blamed for several deaths and caused scattered power outages.
  • Storms are expected to continue through Sunday.

Parts of western New York state were buried under several feet of snow Saturday morning, with lake-effect snowstorms blamed for multiple deaths, scattered power outages and icy roads that stymied first responders as severe squalls continued to blast the area.

Storms that whipped eleven counties into a state of emergency Friday are expected to continue through Sunday, dumping as much as four feet of snow in parts of the Buffalo metro area before mixing with rain on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. In some areas, six or more feet were already on the ground Saturday.

The heaviest snow fell south of the city, with single-day totals ranging from three feet along the Lake Erie’s eastern end to as much as 66 inches in suburban Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills were scheduled to play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. NFL officials on Thursday announced that they were moving the game to Detroit’s Ford Field because of the weather.

Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said in a tweet that two people had died as a result of the storm from “cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing.” A third person – a snowplow driver in Hamlet, Indiana, about 30 miles from Lake Michigan – was killed Friday when his plow slid off the pavement and rolled over, the Starke County Sheriff’s Department.

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Gov. Kathy Hochul has activated the National Guard to assist with emergency response in the area, Poloncarz added.

Meanwhile, treacherous weather conditions prompted Buffalo officials to issue travel bans throughout the area. However, the Buffalo News reported as of Friday evening officers had issued more than 300 tickets to drivers who defied those bans. 

Throughout the area, a mishmash of lake-effect snowfall blanketed neighborhoods as residents dug out and hoped their rooftops wouldn’t buckle under the weight.

Lake-effect storms are created when frigid winds collect moisture from warmer lakes, forming narrow bands of clouds that dump blowing snow wherever currents may take them. The patchwork effect means some areas of Buffalo experienced heavy thundersnow, in which storms dispense snow instead of rain, while others saw more modest snowfall with patches of blue sky.