US: Power outage in Buffalo after ‘once in a generation blizzard’
A man has been found frozen to death on his 56th birthday as “once-in-a-lifetime” winter storms wreak havoc across the US. William Clay, 56, was found lying face down in the snow in upstate New York as subzero temperatures and a 48-hour blizzard hit.
He is one of at least 25 people to die in Erie County, New York over the last few days as western parts of the state are buried by up to 43 inches of snow.
Mr Clay’s body was identified shortly after he was reported missing on Christmas Eve in freak weather described as a “once in a generation type event” by the National Weather Service and officially named Storm Elliott.
His sister, Sophie Clay, shared news of his death on a GoFundMe page which has raised $5,720 (£4,741) for his funeral so far, writing: “I am the sister of the gentleman that lost his life during the 2022 Blizzard on 12/24/2022.
“My brother unexpectedly lost his life on his birthday.”
A man’s body was found on his birthday after freezing to death during Storm Elliott
William Clay, 56, was found dead after freezing from Storm Elliott in Buffalo, New York
Ms Clay has since posted a tribute after learning of his death, writing: “Rest in peace Billy. My heart breaks for my nephew and his family.”
Other members of his family have also taken to social media to share their feelings after his passing, with his son Jules Clay saying his “pain is overwhelming”.
“Grateful I spoke to him & told him I love him yesterday”, he added.
Sophie had urged members of the public to help find William in a Facebook post written in the morning, revealing that he often spent time at the 7-Eleven convenience shop near his home.
The tragedy came as thousands of homes were plunged into darkness during an outage in the region, while cars were caught beneath huge snow drifts.
READ MORE: America in grip of -10C freeze as 28 die in snowstorm
Family members identified his body shortly after he was reported missing on Christmas Eve
At least 27 died in west New York due to the storm, one of the worst weather-related disasters ever
Many deaths were “people found outside and in cars”, a statement by police in Buffalo, the state’s second largest city, read.
The winter storm has caused chaos around America, with tens of millions warned to stay indoors over the festive period.
It comes as at least at least 27 people have died in western New York due to Storm Elliott, making it of the worst weather-related disasters in the region’s history.
As much as 43 inches of snow has fallen in the region, with wind speeds of 48mph at Buffalo Airport on Friday.
The nationwide death toll is now thought to be at least 50, with 48 deaths confirmed, including 25 in New York state.
Mark Poloncarz said: ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard. And this is not the end yet’
Over Friday and Saturday, the average wind speed was 27.7mph, which blew snow into enormous drifts. Houses were buried and motorists left stranded in their cars.
“This is a war with mother nature and she has been hitting us with everything she has,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Ms Hochul, who is from Buffalo, added: “”It is (like) going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the storm one of the worst he’s ever seen during a Monday news conference.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime, generational blizzard,” he said of the impacts to the county, which includes Buffalo. “And this is not the end yet.”
“This is a horrible situation,” Mr Poloncarz said on Monday. “The blizzard of 1977 lasted longer — it lasted three days of terrible conditions, this was two days of terrible conditions — but the ferocity of the storm was worse than the blizzard of 1977.”
Across the US, at least 50 people have died from the storm
Only 12.3 inches of new snow fell at the Buffalo Airport during the 1977 blizzard, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, compared to more than 40 inches in this week’s storm.
Blizzard-condition winds occurred for nine consecutive hours and zero visibility lasted for 13 consecutive hours.
In the 1977 storm, 29 people died in four days, including 12 who were found frozen in stranded cars. Across the US, eastern states are the hardest hit.
Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said relief from the storm is on its way as swathes of the country can expect warmer temperatures in the later part of the week.
“The trend is going to be for warmer weather for the upcoming week,” he said.
“In fact, Buffalo could easily get up in the 40s at some point during the second half of the week.”