Buffalo snow: Most stranded thruway vehicles cleared
by Carol Thompson
The ferocious snowstorm that pelted the Buffalo, New York area left hundreds stranded on the thruway. Most of those vehicles have now been cleared, according to a Thruway official and efforts are reportedly underway to free about 100 remaining vehicles. Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile stretch of the Thruway, the main highway across New York state.
The early season storm dropped more than four-feet of snow around the Buffalo area with more lake snow forecast for today. At least five deaths have been reported due to the severe conditions. A 46 year old man died after being trapped in his buried car and it’s believed three people suffered heart attacks while shoveling. Another died in an automobile accident.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 10 counties, and the National Guard was activated to help clean up. The state deployed 526 snowplows and 17 large snow blowers.
Among those stranded was Lindsey Higgins, who was returning from a trip in the Midwest to her home in Lancaster, NY. Higgins, who was stranded in her car for more than 20 hours, said she was one of the more fortunate travelers. “I had food, soda, and water,” she said. “I had a full tank of gas and my cell phone charger with me and blankets.” Others weren’t so lucky. It was reported that some of those stranded drank melted snow to quench their thirst.
Speaking from her cell phone, Higgins said she was looking forward to getting home, however, she had no idea how she would get into her house. “From the sounds of it, I’ll have a lot of shoveling to do before I can finally say I’m home. The problem is, my shovel is by the door so I don’t know how I’ll get to it. Living here, I always carry plenty of blankets in my car but I never thought to carry a shovel.”
As common with lake effect snow, some areas were hit with feet of snow while just a few miles away, only a dusting of snow fell.
The snow pattern was part of blast of cold air that brought temperatures in all 50 states to freezing or below. Twenty deaths were reported across the country since Saturday.
Sections of the New York Thruway remained closed today.
Image: New York State Police