Most Buffalo residents took a day off Monday while road crews started digging them out of 3 feet of snow piled up by the city’s worst single-day storm on record.
Many stores and offices were closed. A concert was canceled. A travel ban was lifted Monday morning, but Mayor Anthony Masiello urged everyone to stay put while crews dug through drifts.
The storm was part of a huge cold wave that spread across much of the East and deep into the South, where Baton Rouge, La., had a record low Monday of 23 degrees. International Falls, Minn., hit 25 below zero.
Nearly three dozen deaths from hypothermia and weather-related accidents were reported from Wisconsin to Georgia, including 15 in Iowa.
New York state activated 140 National Guardsmen to help Buffalo’s street crews, and 65 snowmobilers volunteered to carry medication and other necessities to housebound senior citizens.
“I think it’s positive for our city’s image in that we responded to it very swiftly, with a real decisive effort,” Masiello said, trying to put a good face on a storm that reinforced Buffalo’s image as one big municipal snow drift.
The city’s record 37.9 inches of snow in 24 hours was produced by a narrow band of squalls along the shore of Lake Erie that got stuck over Buffalo, the National Weather Service said.
Towns a few miles outside the city received less than a foot.
Elsewhere in upstate New York, snow plastered the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, giving Watertown 3 feet on Sunday.
About a dozen shoppers spent the night at the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown because they could not get out of the parking lot late Sunday. Red Cross officials tried to take supplies to them but couldn’t get through, said Bethany Bassage, a mall secretary.
The shoppers, chaperoned by a mall manager and security personnel, slept on furniture in the mall’s stores and ate food from the shops before leaving on Monday morning.