Buffalo Blizzard of 77
The Buffalo Blizzard of ’77 was the most powerful blizzard to hit the city in over fifty years. It reached a wind speed of 49 mph, or 79 km/h. Although the blizzard itself was not severe, it was the result of a combination of weather patterns and pre-existing conditions that exacerbated its effects.
Winds peaked at 49 mph (79 km/h)
The Buffalo blizzard of 1977 was a historic storm. It killed nearly 30 people and left more than a dozen vehicles abandoned in the snow. During the three days the blizzard lasted, more than four feet of snow fell on the city.
Several other cities in the Northeast also suffered from the blizzard, including New York City and Boston. Officials estimated that about 60 people died nationwide in weather-related incidents.
According to the National Weather Service, the Buffalo blizzard was the worst in 50 years. More than a foot of snow fell in the city, and many roads became impassable.
In the days following the blizzard, hundreds of snowplow drivers fanned out across the city. Many people were found frozen in cars or half-buried in their homes. Emergency crews went car-to-car looking for survivors.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has called it the most devastating storm in the county’s history. “It was the worst storm in my lifetime,” he said.
Governor Kathy Hochul declared the blizzard a disaster. She announced that she would request federal emergency declarations for both Erie and Genesee counties. President Joe Biden offered federal assistance to New York.
Meanwhile, state and local law enforcement have begun enforcing a driving ban that was in effect. Police departments are also ticketing motorists who violate the ban.
Pre-existing weather conditions exacerbated the blizzard’s effects
Buffalo, New York has suffered from a series of devastating snow storms. A powerful blast of cold air and lake-effect snow created conditions that have proved deadly. Many people died and hundreds of thousands of customers are without power.
In addition to the weather, many cars were left stranded in the city. This led to an epic rescue effort by the National Guard and countless plows attempting to clear roads. However, the efforts slowed down by downed power lines and large snowdrifts.
The blizzard-like conditions swept across Erie County. Blizzard-like winds with gusts up to 65 mph paralyzed the area. Winds up to 85 mph were predicted later on Friday.
Pre-existing conditions aggravated the effects of the blizzard, such as the heavy “lake effect” snow. Lake Erie froze over on December 14. By the time it thawed, it was covered with snow and provided material for the winds to blow.
The city was also hit by thunderstorms that can produce localized tornadoes. One school remained open through the storm, although the school’s roof was ripped off.
There were at least 16 reported weather-related fatalities in the region. Some of the most notable were in Niagara County. At least two people died from a heart attack while shoveling snow. Other victims included three who died of exposure to extreme cold.
Forecasts for Buffalo and swaths of the country show warmer weather
The Buffalo area of New York state was hit hard with snowfall last week. It ranks as one of the snowiest cities in the US. And the swaths of the country will experience warmer temperatures as well.
The region saw its heaviest storm this winter. More than 17 inches of snow fell on the city. Two lake-effect events contributed to that amount.
A new record has been set for daily maximum snowfall. Accumulations are expected to continue to rise, especially as a band of intense lake-effect snow moves south of the city.
Winter Storm Elliott, a massive system, caused delays and cancellations, and left travelers stranded over the holiday weekend. Some were stuck in cars for two days. Hundreds of homes in the region were without power.
A record-setting lake effect rain event in October brought ghastly rain to parts of the Buffalo area, and a similar band of intense lake-effect snow is moving in. As a result, many roads are closed and the travel advisory remains in place.
Forecasts show that the area could get another foot of snow over the next several days. Wind gusts up to 40 mph will keep accumulations high.
A massive storm snarled travel throughout the US and Canada. Travelers were stranded and rebooked, and airports had long lines. In some cases, motorists died in crashes.