The death toll from the violent snowstorm that has blanketed parts of Western New York in nearly four feet of snow rose to seven people overnight, the Erie County executive said at a news conference on Christmas morning. At least three deaths were attributed to medical emergencies that rescue workers were not able to reach because of the storm, according to the county. It was not immediately clear how the other people died.
The blizzard, which created whiteout conditions for the past two days in the western part of the state, including Buffalo, left more than 100,000 customers across the state without power at its height, and forced officials in several hard-hit counties to issue driving bans that were still in place on Sunday. By Sunday morning, there were still nearly 38,000 New Yorkers without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks utility outages across the country.
Nearly three days after the blizzard began, people remained stuck in cars on highways and on side streets in Buffalo, officials said. Complicating rescue efforts was the snow itself that made roads impassable and even trapped emergency responders.