Major snowstorm hits western & northern New York

The early winter storm has brought heavy snow to parts of western New York state, where two fatalities have been confirmed, travel disruptions and “ice dust” expected to increase over the weekend.

The storm, which ripped through Lake Erie and Ontario, dumped up to 1.5 meters or more of snow as authorities said “the deaths appear to be the result of heart attacks due to overexertion while clearing snow.”

As temperatures dropped, the region’s first major snowstorm appeared on Thursday and intensified overnight on Friday, well ahead of the onset of winter on December 21.

The lake-effect storm produced sporadic bouts of heavy rain throughout yesterday, blanketing some areas with several feet of snow, and is expected to last through Sunday.

By Friday evening, the weather service reported 1.7 meters of snow measured in the village of Orchard Park in Erie County, 25 kilometers south of Buffalo.

Commercial traffic is closed on the New York freeway between exits 53 and 59, according to the agency that manages the freeway.

Other parts of major interstates, including 290 and 990, are also closed.

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