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Live Updates: Power Outages and Bitter Cold in the Eastern US


A punishing blizzard dumped snow across western New York throughout the day on Friday, showing no signs of abating as gusty winds left more than 100,000 people without power and forced authorities to stop motorists on the roads. Late Friday afternoon, as conditions worsened and the storm spread, the governor expanded a travel ban on Erie County to include Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties.

“The storm is definitely as predicted,” Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said in an interview. “Buffalo is used to dealing with normal snowfall,” he said. “There are people in Buffalo saying this is one of the worst storms they’ve ever seen. We are doing well, but it is certainly a very difficult storm.

As the snow piled up, he said, emergency responders responded to numerous calls for downed trees, downed power lines and shorted traffic lights. By 3 p.m., more than 110,000 people were without power. Western New York was without power, according to Governor Kathy Hochul.

According to Mayor Brown, about 2,800 energy workers had been mobilized to repair power outages as they occurred, but conditions slowed their ability to make repairs. “In these whiteout conditions, you can’t get into a bucket truck,” he said.

A total of 7,700 utility workers across the state are on hand to help dig in and manage the storm, according to the governor’s office. The state has also deployed 65 plow drivers to the area.

By mid-afternoon, most Buffalo residents appeared to have collapsed. The strong wind spit up thick, wet snow, reducing visibility to just a few feet.

Snow clung to tree trunks and branches and buried entire vehicles as roads became increasingly impassable with each new layer of accumulation. Buffalo Bills football flags whipped furiously in front yards where Christmas lights and decorations were obscured or buried by the blizzard.

The storm turned a lone man braving the streets of downtown Buffalo into a Santa Claus lookalike, white snow covering his beard and jacket.

To prepare for the freezing temperatures expected in the evening, the county set up about 20 heated shelters, but by 2 p.m. Friday a few had lost power, according to county executive Mark Poloncarz. People seeking refuge there would be moved elsewhere, he said on Twitter. ‘It’s terribly bad now,’ Mr Poloncarz said wrote.

Eric Anderson, 30, of Buffalo, a truck driver on vacation, fueled up at a gas station near downtown Buffalo in whiteout conditions as wet snow covered his SUV

Mr. Anderson said he left the house to buy rubbing alcohol. Freezing temperatures had frozen the lock on his house door when he went out for 10 minutes to check his vehicle early Friday afternoon, he said.

“You don’t realize how bad it is outside until you come here,” he said. “It’s supposed to get worse.”

Mr Anderson said he was unable to finish his Christmas shopping due to the storm and planned to skip a family holiday gathering to avoid the snow.

“I’m going home right away, and I’m going to stay there until Christmas.”

By early afternoon, along Elmwood Avenue on the west side of town, a normally busy street lined with small businesses was consumed by increasingly bad weather.

Visibility was close to zero, with few people braving the wind that swirled the snow in all directions. Snow plow trucks snaked along with flashing lights, covered in several inches of accumulation. Most establishments remained closed.

On a nearby street, Lenny Verrastro, who has lived in Maui, Hawaii, for two decades, was shoveling the sidewalk outside his Airbnb with his wife, Sarah, and 5-year-old son, Miles. Mr. Verrastro grew up in Buffalo, but his son had never seen snow before. He couldn’t get enough.

“He ate so much snow,” Mr. Verrastro said. “And we built a snowman in the back.”

As the snowflakes swirled wildly around the family, Mr. Verrastro beamed. “We love it,” he said. “We wished for a white Christmas.”



nytimes Gt

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