Buffalo, New York, is already having a rough winter. The area got more than 7 feet of snow this week as a result of a lake-effect storm, and now it's preparing for all of that white stuff to melt -- which could result in widespread flooding once temperatures climb 20 degrees this weekend. Buffalo's forecast for Monday calls for a high of 66 degrees.
The water in the snow amounts to about 6 inches of rain over two days, the Associated Press reported, and on top of that, meteorologists predicted actual rain at the beginning of the week. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning. "Expect 5 to 6 feet of water in some areas in a short period of time," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told CNN. Officials were especially concerned because fall leaves could clog the drains.
In preparation for the feared flooding, Buffalo borrowed water pumps, boats and helicopters, CBS News reported. Rescue teams were nearby, and nearly 200,000 sand bags were ready for residents' use. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it's unclear how bad the situation could get, but he anticipates issues like structures collapsing. "We are preparing now for more flooding than we have seen in a long, long time," Cuomo said in a statement. "If we're lucky we won't need any of it ... but our motto is prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
Though some driving bans were lifted, people were discouraged from traveling because the roads were still dangerous. But staying at home is risky, too: The roofs on more than 30 homes have caved in under the weight of snow. "I'm ready for it to end," Maria Odom told CNN. "I've lived here my whole life and I've never seen anything like this."
Buffalo residents frantically tried to clear the snow from their houses ahead of the expected flooding. Trucks moved more than 50,000 tons of snow to parking lots. Thousands of volunteers came to help with the task, calling themselves the "shovel brigade." "I know that people really need to get shoveled out, especially some of the older folks, so I'm just doing my part to help out," volunteer Beth Bragg told CBS News.
Twitter photos showed the wonky weather:
â€” WESH 2 News (@WESH) November 22, 2014
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) November 22, 2014
— TIME.com (@TIME) November 22, 2014
— Lisa Hepfner (@HefCHCHNews) November 22, 2014
— Eric Roston (@eroston) November 21, 2014
— wusa9 (@wusa9) November 21, 2014