BUFFALO, N.Y. - The "City of Good Neighbors" will have the chance to put its nickname to the test as the region figures out how to dig out from feet of snow courtesy of a historic lake-effect snow event in Buffalo and across western New York.
Authorities declared a state of emergency on Thursday as the first flakes hit the ground, and members of the National Guard were sent in to check on the most vulnerable.
"We understand people want to get out, but we need everyone to please hunker down for a bit longer because most neighborhood streets and secondary roads are not plowed," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
The region is used to seeing winter storms and heavy snowfall but to experience several months’ worth of frozen precipitation in a day is enough to bring the most well-prepared community to a standstill.
Records are still being tallied by the National Weather Service, but the storm system will go in the record books as historic.
Buffalo beat its record snowfall on Friday, receiving 16.1 inches, and communities south of town such as Orchard Park reported seeing more than 70 inches.
The heavy, wet snow made travel dangerous, and parts of interstates 290 and 990 were shut down.
Authorities said they had not received any reports of fatalities from crashes but attributed two deaths to cardiac episodes during the winter storm.
Poloncarz said two residents in Erie County died after trying to remove the heavy snow from properties.
"We send our deepest sympathies and remind all that this snow is very heavy and dangerous," Poloncarz stated.
The FOX Forecast Center expects the snow to taper off on Sunday, and significant melting will commence during the workweek as high temperatures reach the 40s.
The Buffalo Niagara International Airport’s runways reopened on Saturday, but aviation officials warned passengers should check with their airlines for lingering delays and cancellations.