At least five people were killed since Tuesday as lake-effect snow fell on parts of New York, media reports said early Wednesday, citing authorities. Temperatures in all 50 U.S. states fell to freezing or below, while authorities reportedly said that snow totals could top six feet in the hardest-hit areas of South Buffalo by Wednesday afternoon.
A 46-year-old man died after his vehicle was buried in snow in Alden overnight, county officials said Wednesday. Two people reportedly died while shoveling the deep snow, while another died attempting to push his car out of a snowdrift. Another potential snowstorm is expected by Thursday, The Associated Press reported. However, most of the U.S. is reportedly expected to return to normal November temperatures by Friday.
"This storm is basically a knife that went right through the heart of Erie County," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, according to CNN. "I can't remember and I don't think anyone else can remember this much snow falling in this short a period."
Authorities reportedly said that several motorists were stranded and people had to take shelter in places like fire stations on Tuesday night. Members of the Niagara University women's basketball team, who were on their way back to campus, were rescued early Wednesday after being stranded in a bus for nearly 30 hours. Several motorists were also stranded on Interstate-90 near Buffalo due to heavy snow.
"It's probably heavier than anything that we have seen in over 40 years, so it's going to take some time to dig out," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, according to CNN.
Snow fell at a rate of up to four inches an hour in parts of Buffalo, while nearly five feet of snow was reported in Lancaster, according to the National Weather Service.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Franklin, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and Wyoming counties.