NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Tri-State area is facing a bitter cold day as a ferocious storm buried parts of upstate New York in massive piles of snow.
Temperatures were well below freezing Wednesday and combined with gusty winds, the wind chill made it feel like it was in the single digits in some parts of region.
The bitter blast caught many by surprise.
Elaine Berg from Seattle is visiting family in Midtown and said she had to borrow a winter coat from her cousin.
“I have a traditional down coat that was good for Seattle but it wouldn’t keep me warm here,” she told CBS2’s Elise Finch. “It’s an icy cold and what I’m surprised about is how quickly it changed and it became frigid.”
Bundling up is a task some mothers say is tricky when dressing their young children.
“Lined pants, they have to absolutely have socks with sneakers, they have to have their coats which they don’t want to wear them, they have to have their gloves, their hats,” Joelle Cosentino said.
“What makes it difficult is probably the wind, it’s awful and it’s hard for them to be outside when the wind is blowing in their face,” Upper West Side resident Iffy Varano said.
Others were positive about the frigid forecast.
“It’s crisp and cold, but still manageable,” one person said.
Forecasters predict the wind will subside a bit throughout the day. And if that doesn’t work for you, Finch says just know that a gradual warm-up starts Thursday.
Meanwhile, a lake-effect storm left the Buffalo area buried under six feet of snow Wednesday, trapping people on highways and in homes and another storm expected to drop two to three feet more was on its way.
Even hardened Buffalo residents were caught off-guard by the early-season storm that was expected to end by Wednesday afternoon.
The storm came in so fast and furious it trapped more than 100 vehicles on a 132-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway in western New York that remained closed Wednesday.
“We are stressing to people do not drive unless you absolutely have to,” said Erie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Scott Patroniak.
The storm was blamed for five western New York deaths, three of them heart attacks. Erie County officials said a 46-year-old man was discovered early Wednesday in his car, which was in a ditch and buried in snow in the town of Alden, 24 miles east of Buffalo. It was unclear how he died.
Members of the Niagara University’s women’s basketball team were among those trapped on the Thruway.
Stranded since 1 a.m. Tuesday, team members tweeted photos of a plow starting to clear the road. State troopers picked them up early Wednesday morning.
“We just filled our Gatorade water bottles up that we use during games with snow so that it could melt so we could have water in the morning,” said team coach Kendra Faustin.
Even emergency crews were having trouble getting around.
“If someone calls 911 and there’s 6 feet of snow on that street, that ambulance is going to have problems getting there,” said Patroniak.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed 150 members of the National Guard to help clear snow-clogged roads and remove abandoned vehicles.
By early Wednesday, a Thruway official said most but not all passenger vehicles had been cleared.
Amtrak passenger train service between Albany and the Buffalo area remained suspended Wednesday.
The lake-effect snow created a stark divide: in downtown Buffalo and north of the city, there was a mere dusting of precipitation, while in the south parts, snow was everywhere.
The snow band that brought the snow was very much evident throughout the day as gray clouds persistently hovered over the southern part of the city. The band was so apparent, that the wall of snow could be seen from a mile away.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy announced Wednesday evening the state Department of Transportation is sending personnel and equipment to Buffalo to aid in snow clean-up.
ConnDOT will send 22 staff members along with three jumbo snowblowers and plow trucks.
In a region accustomed to highway-choking snowstorms, this one is being called one of the worst in memory.
More lake-effect storms are expected to blast the area overnight, with up to 5 more inches of snow falling per hour.
The New York Transportation Commissioner says the Thruway will remain closed from the Pennsylvania state line to Rochester through Thursday.
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