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Winter storm kills 28 in western NY

People walk through the streets of the Elmwood Village neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
People walk through the streets of the Elmwood Village neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo residents huddled around space heaters Monday, searching for cars buried in the snow and possible victims of the cold, after 28 people died in one of the world’s worst catastrophes. weather conditions that have hit western New York.

The rest of the United States also suffered from the winter storm, and at least two dozen other deaths were recorded in other parts of the country.

The National Weather Service reported that another 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow could fall in parts of western New York by Tuesday.

“This is not over,” said Erie County Administrator Mark Poloncarz, who described the blizzard as “the worst of our lives,” even for an area accustomed to heavy snowfall.

Some people were trapped in their cars for more than two days, he said.

President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the families of the victims, and offered federal aid to the state.

People who lost their lives in and around Buffalo were found in cars, houses and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow; others, when emergency teams were unable to respond in time to medical crises.

Scientists say the climate change crisis may have contributed to the intensity of the storm. That’s because the atmosphere can carry more water vapor, which acts as fuel, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder campus.

The storm slammed into western New York on Friday and Saturday. With many grocery stores closed in the Buffalo area and car restrictions in place, some people pleaded on social media for food and diaper donations.

“It was like looking at a white wall for 14 or 18 hours straight,” Poloncarz said.

However, some relief will come this week as temperatures are forecast to rise slowly, according to Ashton Robinson Cook, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

About 3,410 domestic and international flights were canceled as of 3 p.m. Eastern time Monday, according to the FlightAware tracking site. According to the site, Southwest Airlines had canceled 2,497 flights, about 60% of its scheduled flights and about 10 times more than any other major US carrier.

Southwest said the weather was improving, which would “stabilize and improve our situation.”

According to FlightAware data, airports across the United States experienced cancellations and delays, including Denver, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle, Baltimore, and Chicago.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the storm came just over a month after the region was inundated by another “historic” snowfall. Between the two storms, snow totals aren’t far off the 95.4 inches (242 centimeters) the area typically sees in an entire winter season.

The National Weather Service put the snow total at Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) as of 10 a.m. Monday. According to authorities, the airport will remain closed until Wednesday morning.

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles; Jonathan Mattise and John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Sean Murphy, in Oklahoma City; Ron Todt in Philadelphia; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; and Wilson Ring in Stowe, Vermont, contributed to this report.

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