BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said two deaths were confirmed Friday in connection with the lake-effect snowstorm hammering Western New York.
Two men died due to cardiac events relating to snow shoveling and snow blowing, he said. Their identities were not released.
“This snow is exceptionally heavy and wet,” Poloncarz said, adding condolences to the families. “We’re reminding everybody, you have to shovel smart because cardiac events, heart attacks always occur in these situations.”
Poloncarz urged drivers to stay off the road, especially in the hardest-hit areas south and east of the city.
“The reports we just had is it’s some of the worst conditions that our Public Works Departments and Sheriffs deputies have ever faced in a storm, because it’s starting to snow at such a very high rate of snow,” Poloncarz said.
“And part of the problem is there are people that are in vehicles in these areas trying to traverse through them, they are getting stuck. Our plows are getting stuck. Law enforcement vehicles are getting stuck. It is very difficult. So do not drive in the banned zone. You are putting yourself and others at risk. Even our big-rig snowplows are getting stuck in some points.”
As of 2 p.m., 10 towns in Western New York had received at least 2 feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Blasdell led the way with 48 inches, though officials said higher, unofficial numbers have been reported.
“The roads are not in any type of travel condition,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said during the press conference.
Department of Public Works Commissioner William Geary said there are over 60 inches of snow on some roads, with McKinley Parkway among toughest to clear.
“We lost a snowblower,” Geary said. “These snowblowers are 8 feet wide and 6 feet high. It broke down.”
“It’s unfathomable to see this type of snow come down in such a short period of time,” he added.
Garcia said that when a car went off the road on Route 400 and called for assistance, the deputy they sent also slid off the road.
“Don’t put first responders in danger, and don’t put yourself in danger,” Garcia said.
He also added a thank-you to the Bills and the NFL for relocating Sunday’s game to Detroit.
“I want to say thank you to the Buffalo Bills for not having a game on Sunday, because all those assets we would’ve had to redeploy there would’ve caused a lot of problems.”
The Bills are planning to fly out Saturday to face the Cleveland Browns.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.