NEW YORK CITY: (November 20, 2014) A “historic” storm dumped more than five feet of snow, stranding scores of motorists, canceling flights and killing at least eight people in the northeastern United States, officials said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Areas east and southeast of Buffalo, in northern New York state, could receive a year’s accumulation of snow or even more in just two days, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters.
The deadly burst, named Winter Storm Knife, may see as much as another three feet (one meter) of snowfall on Thursday, which could prompt a federal disaster declaration, Poloncarz said.
The Arctic blast will keep temperatures below normal until the weekend, and all 50 states recording below freezing temperatures on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
A state of emergency and travel bans are in effect across Buffalo’s Erie County and authorities ordered people to stay at home to allow crews to clear roads, repair power lines and provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable.
‘Difficult, paralyzed situation’
County spokesman Peter Anderson said runways at Buffalo Niagara International Airport were open, but that “a lot of flights” were being canceled because people cannot get to the airport.
The National Guard was called in to assist military Humvee vehicles after New York’s transportation department worked through the night to rescue stranded motorists and take people to shelters.
“This is something that we’re not going to be able to solve on our own. Many communities are still in a very difficult, in some ways paralyzed situation,” Poloncarz said.
“From a public health standpoint this has been a killer storm. We’ve had six deaths in the area, five of which have been preventable,” said Erie county health commissioner Gale Burstein.
Three of those who died suffered heart attacks while shoveling snow and another person died while using a snowplow.
US media reported two other deaths in the states of New Hampshire and Michigan.