The deadly blizzard that has killed at least 57 people across the United States was still producing “extremely heavy snow” Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph could rapidly deteriorate visibility, he said in his 5:45 a.m. ET bulletinadding that storm-weary parts of New York were experiencing snowfall of 1 to 2 inches per hour.
“Snow will accumulate so rapidly that it will be extremely difficult for road crews to keep roads clear,” the weather service said later in the morning.
The blinding blizzard took particular aim at Erie County, New York, which accounted for nearly half the death toll at 27, including 18 in Buffalo.
A dusting of snow has rendered roads impassable, Buffalo County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference Monday, adding that he hoped a driving ban that has been in place for days could be lifted soon for some suburbs. .
But forecasters said 3:15 a.m. ET bulletin on Tuesday that parts of western New York could see up to 8 inches of additional snowfall, with up to 5 inches in Buffalo. Since July 1, Buffalo had experienced at least one hundred inches of snow, making it the snowiest start of any season on record.
Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air passes over warmer, thawing lake water, transferring moisture and heat to the lower parts of the atmosphere. The air then rises to form clouds, resulting in heavy snow.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for New York on Monday.
Across the country, plummeting temperatures and massive snowfalls have left cities without power, leading to power outages, cancellations of thousands of flights and residents stuck at home without food.
Stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande River along the Mexican border, the storm had killed at least 57 people as of Tuesday morning, according to an NBC News tally. The deaths were reported in 12 states: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
About 2,900 flights to and from the US had been canceled in the country as of 6 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to the FlightAware flight tracking website. More than 2,500 of those canceled flights were Southwest Airlines.
On Monday, the day of many trips after Christmas, Southwest had canceled 2,900 flights, representing 70% of its total schedule, stranding angry passengers at airports.
Meanwhile, in Jackson, Mississippi, burst pipes left thousands of residents without running water Monday as the city struggled to restore pressure to its fragile water system.
The storm was expected to gradually improve during the week, forecasters said.
“Persistent lake-effect snowfall downwind from the Great Lakes will become less intense and fade on Tuesday,” the weather service said at 2:59 a.m. ET. newsletter tuesday. Temperatures in the East and Midwest were also expected to moderate over the next few days, he added.
A cheep from the NWS though warning of flooding from melting snow as temperatures rise.