At least 6 die as snow, cold pummels Northeast – USA TODAY

Parts of Buffalo, New York are expected to see 90 inches of snow over a three-day period. Their usual average is 94 inches of snow per year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The first snowstorm of the season has resulted in five deaths in this area so far — three had heart attacks from shoveling snow, officials said.

The snow is still falling with more than 5 feet already on the ground, and some areas south of the city are expected to get a year’s worth of snow — almost 6 feet — in just three days. Temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below overnight.

“We were very pleased last year with the two blizzards we didn’t have any deaths,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

One death came from an accident in Cheektowaga, N.Y., where another vehicle was helping a stuck vehicle gain traction in the snow.

When the stuck vehicle was able to back up, it pinned one of the men between the two vehicles. A 30-year-old from Pennsylvania died.

Crews say some areas have so much snow that it’s like plowing a brick wall. Rescuers, who have been using snowmobiles, also have been walking car to car to try to dig out people stuck in their vehicles.

A 46-year-old man from Alden, N.Y., died in his car, which rescuers found buried in snow, officials said Wednesday. At least one other person has died elsewhere across the USA, according to the Associated Press.

Dozens of drivers, including Caitlin Battaglia of Hamburg, N.Y., have been stranded on the New York State Thruway for more than 24 hours. She picked up her boyfriend at work late Monday, headed westbound on Interstate 90, got stuck and has been stranded ever since without any contact from state police or thruway officials, she said.

“We don’t know when we’re going to get out of here,” she told WGRZ-TV via Facetime. “We don’t have food. We don’t have water. I think we’re down to maybe a half tank of gas.

“The snow is coming down so much right now that I don’t see us getting out of here for another day. It’s bad, maybe even two days,” Battaglia said.

A bus with the Niagara University women’s basketball team was stuck in the eastbound lanes of the same interstate after attempting to return from a game in Pittsburgh, but state troopers were able to pick them up and bring them to a nearby police station, Niagara guard Tiffany Corselli said.

Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile stretch of the Thruway, the main highway across New York state.

In some cases, rescuers have been unable to use snowmobiles because of the way the snow has compacted and created drifts as much as 8 feet high.

In December 2001, this area received 80 to 90 inches of snow over five days.

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, icy roads led to accidents. Lake-effect storms in Michigan produced gale-force winds and as much as 18 inches of snow, and canceled several flights at the Grand Rapids airport.

Schools closed in the North Carolina mountains amid blustery winds and ice-coated roads. In Indiana, three firefighters were hurt when a semitrailer hit a fire truck on a snowy highway.

In Atlanta, tourists Morten and Annette Larsen from Copenhagen were caught off-guard by the 30-degree weather as they took photos of a monument to the 1996 summer Olympics at Centennial Olympic Park.

“It’s as cold here as it is in Denmark right now. We didn’t expect that,” Larsen said, waving a hand over his denim jacket, buttoned tightly over a hooded sweatshirt.

Contributing: Michael Wooten, WGRZ-TV, Buffalo, N.Y.; The Associated Press


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