Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Buffalo Lake Effect Disaster Worsens

A view of the Buffalo snow band from the air last night
Much of the city is in the clear, but to the south,
they're still locked in a solid wall of snow.  
I was pretty wowed last evening when I wrote my last update on the Buffalo, New York area lake effect snow blitz.

I'm even most in shock and awe mode this morning.

Worse, I'm getting really worried about people who live there. This is getting more and more life-threatening.

Already, at least four people have died in the epic snows, according to The Buffalo News. Three had heart problems and a fourth person died while trying to push a car out of the snow.

The persistent line of lake effect snow pretty much continued all last night. It might have weakened for a time but it came back on full blast early this morning.

There's a report that one town got as much as 76 inches of snow within 24 hours.
Look closely on the right hand side of this photo.
Snow is to the roofs of tractor trailers on the
New York State Thruway.  

If true, that's close to a record for 24 hour snowfall total from a lake effect storm, which according to weather historian Christopher Burt, is 77 inches in Montague Township on the Tug Hill Plateau of New York on Jan. 11-12, 1997.

The Tug Hill Plateau is near Lake Ontario, which is having its own problems with lake effect. Up there, it's three or four feet and counting.

The official record for heaviest 24 hour snowfall in the United States is
75.8 inches in Silver Lake, Colorado on April 14-15, 1921. The Montague Township record doesn't count because the measurements weren't taken as precisely as they should have been.

Anyway, it's extreme near Buffalo. And I'm worried about the structural integrity of the houses and other buildings creaking under the weight of all that snow.

True, lake effect snow tends to be light and fluffy, but it still has weight. A couple feet of lake effect snow is no big deal for most normal structures, but five, six, or seven feet and counting?  The weight must be tremendous.

Already, the force of the snow against one home busted down a door in the town of Cheektowaga. I'm sure we'll hear reports of roofs caving in.
Homeowners in West Seneca, N.Y.  opened their
doors and found this. 

Plus the snow is blocking air vents, which makes me worry about carbon monoxide poisoning in some buildings.

Additionally, nobody can leave their houses or respond to emergencies if the hard hit areas. If there's a fire, a heart attack, another crisis, what do you do.

Another 20 to 30 inches of snow (!!!!!) is due in the snowbelt area tonight and tomorrow.

Then, on Monday, it's supposed to warm up and rain in western New York. That rain will soak into the snow, add more weight and cause more structural problems.

If the temperature gets into the 50s and it rains fairly substantially early next week, I imagine flooding will be a huge problem as well.

The lake effect snow band has pretty much stayed in the same place as yesterday, causing widely varying snow totals. To the north, there's hardly been anything, then suddenly you get into feet of snow.

For instance, on the north side of Cheektowaga, N.Y. last evening, only two or three inches of snow had accumulated. On the south side of the same town, there was more than four feet of new snow. Same town!

Buffalo airport had received 3.9 inches of new snow as of last evening. Six miles away, Lancaster was at five feet of new snow and counting.

Here's how The Buffalo News describes the contrast. First we go to the hard-hit town of Lancaster:

"Plows could barely get in and out of the highway barns because of stranded cars. Paramedics ditched their ambulances in snowbanks in favor of snowmobiles to get to emergencies.

'It's like Beirut here,' said Jeffrey Bono, disaster coordinator for the Lancaster Volunteer Fire Corps. I kid you not. It's horrible.'"

Now let's follow The Buffalo News is just a handful of miles north of Lancaster to see what we find:

"But in Amherst, the skies were blue and the town's street crews were busy picking up fall leaves. And in Buffalo neighborhoods north of downtown, parents scratched their heads as their children cheered a snow day with less than two inches on the ground."

We'll probably have more on this unfolding weather disaster later today or tomorrow.  I'm finding myself saying this over and over again, with increasing frequency in regards to all these worldwide weather extremes:

I've never seen anything like it.

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