Buffalo, NY could get 70 inches of snow; all 50 states have temps below freezing

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BUFFALO, NY — More than 70 inches of snow are expected in Buffalo, New York, following a massive storm this week, but Mayor Byron Brown said Tuesday that “the city is open, the city is operational with the exception of South Buffalo.”

The Buffalo airport had received about 3 inches of snow by Tuesday afternoon. Just three miles to the south, locations had already received 42 inches of snow.

A travel ban was in effect for parts of the Buffalo area. “If you are not an emergency first responder that has to get to work, police, fire, hospital personnel, EMS, EMT, stay home,” mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Subfreezing temperatures hit every state

Every state in the Union had a reporting station somewhere within its borders registering temperatures below freezing Tuesday morning.

That included Hawaii, where the temperature at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island that rises to 13,800 feet, dropped to 31 degrees.

In Florida, it was in the upper 20s in the Panhandle and freeze warnings were in effect.

And it’s not over: Another surge of cold air is likely by Wednesday to Thursday in the Midwest and Northeast. The Southeast could see record lows Wednesday morning as temperatures drop into the teens and 20s.

Tuesday was the coldest November morning since 1976, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL Analytics. The average overnight low for the Lower 48 states was 19.4 degrees, Maue said.

This is highly unusual for this time of year and is much more reminiscent of a pattern forecasters would expect to see in January or February, not November.

The Arctic air pouring over the relatively warm Great Lakes waters is producing extreme lake-effect snows.

Snow totals could approach 70 inches south of Buffalo — almost 6 feet of snow. Lancaster, New York, has already received over 40 inches of snow, and it continues to snow at 4 to 5 inches per hour. Some areas in Erie County, Pennsylvania, have already seen 3 feet of snow. Thunder and lightning have been reported.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Tuesday issued a state of emergency for the county, including a travel ban for all areas of the city of Buffalo south of Genesee Street, and 19 for municipalities. Only emergency vehicles are allowed to travel.

The National Guard has been called in, CNN affiliate WKBW reported. The Guard is to bring in motorized equipment that can be used for snow-clearing, and tow trucks.

Some roadways already had turned into parking lots of abandoned vehicles and stranded motorists, the station reported.

Many communities had 3 to 4 feet of snow dropped on them during the 15-hour storm, with emergency vehicles and plows stuck in the snow, the station reported.

A bus carrying 24 members of the Niagara University Women’s Basketball program was stuck on a highway because of the snow, CNN affiliate WIVB reported. The team was returning home from a game in Pittsburgh. The bus hit the storm about 1 a.m., the station reported. By 2 a.m., it wasn’t moving.

The bus with players and coaches on board pulled over on the side of the road in West Seneca.

Director of basketball operations Renee Polka told WIVB: “We’ve been stuck on the bus for nine hours. So you kind of get the gist. There is currently no sign of progress,” she said.

To make matters worse, this is only the first band of heavy snow in the Buffalo region. More snow is expected on Wednesday, and then the lake-effect snow bands set up again for Wednesday night into Thursday with very heavy snow likely again. This could rank high in the history of lake-effect snow events.

Over half the country — 50.2% — had snow on the ground Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the nation’s largest public transit system, has activated NYC Transit’s 2014-2015 winter operations plan in anticipation of the snow season.

The plan includes new snow-fighting equipment for the departmet’s buses, new improved cold-weather and communications equipment, and increased planning and collaboration with the Department of Sanitation, Cuomo said in a statement.

CNN contributed to this report

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