Early snow in Buffalo, 3 days w/o power

Holy shit is the only way to describe it. I’m about 20 miles East of Buffalo (near Darien Lake for those that know the area,) and my power just came on about an hour ago. (naturally the first thing I’m doing is posting,) I came home from work about 10:00 pm Thursday night and it was coming down pretty good. Listening to the radio everybody was joking around about how it’s really early for this much snow to be falling. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed.

Around 1:30 in the morning the neighbor kids were banging on my bedroom window waving flashlights to wake me up. The power was already out and the heavy wet snow was building up on the still leaf bearing trees and casing limbs to snap. The huge 46 year old maple tree over my driveway had already lost one 1 foot diameter branch into the yard. My truck was parked under the tree. I moved it to the neighbors driveway. The kids heard it smash and thought my truck would be next.

I helped the neighbor drag his generator out of his shed and up to the houses. We got it going and ran two hundred feet of extension cord to my house for my sump pump and theirs. Standing outside at 2:00 am in the quiet, still, dark snowy night was surreal. Every few minutes there was a CRACK like a rifle shot and the crunching sound of branches hitting the ground. I have (had) woods behind my house and across the street. From every direction I heard that huge crack over and over. Off to bed.

I woke up and could see my breath in the morning. I haven’t even put up my storm windows yet or turned on my furnace. It’s been a typical mild fall. I can only remember having a dusting of snow around Halloween two or three times in my life. I was totally unprepared for what I saw when I looked out the window.

Lake effect snow is interesting. A small storm came across the still warm lake Erie and picked up all the moisture. As soon as it hits land it starts dumping all the snow. It left a swath across three counties buried. On a cell phone I talked to a friend 15 miles north near Lockport they had no snow at all. South of East Aurora was clear too.

At my house, the snow was over my knees. No big deal there. Buffalonians can shrug that off. The utter devastation of the trees was massive. The 3 maples around my house are two feet across at the trunk, about 75’ high. They are (were) massive and gorgeous. Half the branches are down. If I didn’t move my truck it would have been crushed. The are thirty foot long branches a foot in diameter across my driveway. The fence around my pool is smashed to hell in two places. I had a bank of lilac bushes that were about the size of a one car garage. They are about a foot tall now. Just stumps sticking out of the ground. Luckily the stuff that landed on the house wasn’t that big and didn’t do any damage. I’ve seen pictures of Hurricane damage, this is close.

I found a radio that ran off batteries and realized this was bigger than I thought. Almost 300,000 people were without power. It was most of the first day before water came back. They had no power to run the pumps. Some roads are still impassable three days later from the downed lines and trees. Some people may not have power until next weekend. Power crews are here from all over New England helping out.

The last few nights I slept on the floor in front of my fireplace with the kitties under a pile of blankets. It’s in the 40’s but after three days of that it gets old. Reports are coming in of over a hundred people in local hospital from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The are either running generators indoors or using their gas stoves for heat. I’m lucky with a generator at my disposal to keep my basement from flooding and my food from spoiling. I had a lot of bottled water and gas, but not enough as it turns out.

The amazing thing about the resilience of Buffalo? Neighbors who have never met, are helping each other dig out and cut trees up. Sharing food and power or gas. Last night in the middle of this huge disaster pockets of the area still had power. Like the core downtown. The Sabers played their Hockey game like nothing happened and won, going 5 and 0 to start the season.

Wow. I’m sorry about your trees and the lilacs – I hope they survive.

So will there be flooding when the snow melts? No heat wave coming your way, I hope.

I heard about it on the radio Friday morning, so I called up my mother-in-law right away. She lives about 70 miles southwest of Buffalo, and works about 15 miles closer than that. She had seen not a flake in either location. Lake effect snow is indeed interesting stuff. :slight_smile:

Sorry your weekend has sucked. :frowning:

If you’re near Darien Lake, we’re not too far from each other. Just got power back early this morning. It had been off since 6 AM Friday. Fortunately, I had heat, and am on city water instead of a well, unlike a lot of people in the area. I’m just glad things are getting back to normal.

Wow, you guys really got crushed, sorry to hear about your trees. The good news is that your lilacs will grow back. You might want to saw the stumps off neatly, when you get a chance, to help them heal.

This is another example of why everyone should keep 3 days of emergency supplies on hand.

Man, that’s astounding. I’ve been watching all the reports like most who’ve been touched by it in any way and it’s been unbelievable. We were ridiculously lucky in the GTA to get only a light dusting. It got pretty bad up towards Niagara, like a full-fledged winter storm, but nothing like Buffalo got.I couldn’t believe how much snow I was seeing in those news broadcasts, those sort of pileups are usually reserved for early-year storms, not October cold snaps, yet there was several feet of snow. People’s vehicles stuck in the snow, people slogging damn near up to their hips through drifts, plows and salters out in as full a force as could be managed under the circumstances. Given that it was still a couple weeks from Halloween, it was surreal.

Your report from the inside Mr. Goob pretty much confirmed what everyone else saw, and gave a smattering of what it was like to be stuck in it, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like. The closest I have to compare is the big blackout of '03, something we did share with Buffalonians, though that wasn’t nearly as bad from a livability standpoint; if anything, we had too much heat then, and getting to local stores to buy supplies to get through wasn’t particularly difficult, mile-long lineups notwithstanding. I hope you guys pulled through okay though. It sounds like you had some good help from your neighbours, which is always a plus. Glad to hear power is back now too. They must still be having a hell of a time clearing away all the debris. Even last night as I watched Cold Case the screen was shrunk so they could fit in a continuously rolling list of which schools were open and which were closed. (Heh, despite the circumstances I would have loved a snow day in October when I was a kid. :))

With the warmer weather now upon us is flooding a serious problem in your area?

Aww, missing Cold Case was one of the things I was annoyed about. Of course it was more annoying to lose a refrigerator, and chest freezer’s worth of food. Not complaining though, lots of people have it worse. Re: snowdays, some kids are getting a snow week! I would have loved that too. This whole thing was a wake-up call for me. I only had enough D batteries for two flashlights, no candles, just a couple of gallons of water. There were two stores open in town on Friday, and of course they didn’t have batteries either by the time I got there. On Saturday, Walmart must have gotten their hands on a generator, since they were open. Fortunately, they still had lots of supplies. It was so odd seeing everyone walking around the dimly lit stores in a daze. I will definitely be stocking up on supplies in case of future problems, as I should have before.

It was a rather unremarkable episode so you didn’t really miss much.

I went through the same thing after the blackout. We had lots of candles fortunately and the blackout occurred when it was still light, so we had time to adjust, but we found ourselves wanting for food that didn’t need to be cooked and a radio that didn’t need power. (We got all our info from calling friends and family, as we were otherwise disconnected from the rest of the world) Having to shop for emergency supplies at the local variety store with only a flashlight while being followed around by a security guard was … interesting. I’m not sure I’d like to have done it with several feet of snow outside and the potential for being stranded by a large tree falling across the road. Were they limiting admittance to however many they could monitor at once or was it more or less just a business-as-unusual?

Well, I can see I’m not going to be getting much sympathy - as I sit here, a light snow is gently falling outside my window. Not really unexpected in Calgary at this time of year - we almost always have at least one good snowfall by Halloween.

That’s a hell of a thing, Mr.Goob. I don’t have much in the way of emergency supplies, myself - we often have city-stopping snowfalls here, but it doesn’t seem to affect anything except our ability to drive to work. Hmm. I’m wondering if I should stock up on some stuff.

Glad to see you made it through ok. Let this be a wake-up call to people who put off establishing a supply of necessaries. A disaster you are prepared for is only an inconvenience.

Sorry about the trees. Those are beautiful.

Tops let everyone in, and let them go wherever they wanted to. I had a couple of brain farts where I patiently waited for the electronic doors to open and let me in, and where I loaded all of my stuff onto the conveyer belt and waited for them to reach the cashier on their own. The other store didn’t even let people inside. Apparently, you gave them your shopping list, and some cash and they sent an employee in to do your shopping. I didn’t bother going to that store. Too much of a hassle to stand out in the cold, while the employees decide between getting you Lays or Ruffles.

We ended up being disconnected from the world too, until we could get enough batteries to power the radio, so we also had to depend on phone calls from people outside the area to keep us up to date. The town set up a shelter, and a lot of people who could have used it didn’t get the information for awhile.

I would if I were you. This isn’t a common occurance here either.

Besides food/water, and heat of course, a lot of people around here were wishing for more money. Debit and credit cards aren’t really much help when the machines are down and the banks are closed. My bank opened for a couple of hours and let people withdraw money even though the computers were down, and there was no way to make sure their accounts could cover it, just having them sign a slip of paper. Nice thing about being in a smaller area. I wonder what they did for people in the city.

Sorry to hear about the damage. Sitting here in Houston with pouring rain and 90-degree weather, that snow sounds mighty nice, but I’m sure it sucks mightily to actually be dealing with it.

How often do snowstorms of this magnitude occur?

I live in Albany, so out-of-staters keep asking me if the snow hit here, too. I mean, it’s only 5 hours away! We have a sister office in Buffalo and they were shut down on Friday. Glad you’re Ok, Mr. Goob, and sorry about all the damage.

And I’m one of those ignorant out-of-staters, too. Ever since I was a kid and heard the song

I thought that it was about 15 miles from Albany to Buffalo.

When I heard on TV that Buffalo was hit by a big snowstorm, my first thought was, I wonder how Anaamika is doing?

My parents live practically in the geographic center of Amherst. They’ve been without electricity since Thursday. Power won’t be back on until after Sunday at the earliest. The area within about 60 miles from the city – supposedly including Toronto – has been picked dry of generators. I’ve been seeing many NYS plates at Home Depot and Lowes stores here in Cleveland, too.

I invited them to stay with me in Cleveland, but Dad won’t leave the house. He’s afraid the furnace will explode if they leave.

I’m glad to see that the WNYers are checking in! My mom (in Williamsville) is still without power and phone service. Our summer cottage is about 20 miles southwest of the city (in Angola), and got a few stray flakes but nothing else. On average, that is usually the area that gets hit worse. Mom lost a really great lotus tree from the yard, but the good part is that it cleared the house by about five feet when it came down. No damage for her other than the trees themselves.

I have to chime in about the 15 miles on the Erie Canal thing. The mule teams would work on sections of about 15 miles (on very rough average) all along the Canal. Then, the team would be switched out for a fresh group of mules and drivers. So the song is really talking about all the 15 mile shifts it takes to get from Albany to Buffalo.

yBeayf, this is extremely unusual because of the early date, not because of the amount of the snowfall. Like Mr. Goob mentioned, I remember getting some light flurries before Halloween every now and again, but to have an all-out storm this early in the year is record-setting. Later in the winter, the amount of snow wouldn’t be very uncommon at all. The real crux of the issue is that because it’s mid-October, most leaves were still on the trees. It had also been rainy, so the leaves were sodden. If you picture a naked (leaf-less) tree in the winter, you can see how most of the snow falls right through the tree branches. With all the leaves still on, the trees “caught” most of the snow and it simply piled up. Snow is very heavy (that might be totally obvious, but I’m not sure if people who live in areas without much snow know that it is very heavy). When it gets heavy enough, the tree simply snaps under the weight – either large branches or the entire tree. This is what is causing many of the problems – the fallen branches took down power lines, and blocked roads making it more difficult to clear the streets.

LOL, 15 miles is a ‘stage’ the distance that a teamster and his mules would pull a load, spend the night at a ‘staging inn’ and pull a load back to the other staging inn where they started. Or at least that is what it used to be in the time when the mighty Erie was at its heyday.

Pretty much 15-20 miles is what a good team of horses can pull in a days work. Riding horses can do much more than that because they have a lot less load and can alternate between walking and trotting.

I am from the BUffalo weather belt, and grew up with lots of snow [60s and early 70s before it started really warming up so much] and my mom was good Iowa farmgirl stock who knew how to supply for a bad winter [she grew up in the depression] and mrAru’s mom is a farm girl from Missouri who only got electricity and running water in the 50s [when she was away to college] to the family farm. mrAru and myself are fantastic at stocking up for nasty winters.

So we move from Va Beach to Connecticut and my first though it great! SNOW. I have really missed actual seasons! and we both hear of a nor’easter heading our way the first full winter we are up here. Off we both go to the grocery store, stock up on batteries for the ghetto blaster, and all 4 battery operated lanterns. We bring in a nice big stack of wood, make sure we have about 10 gallons of water on hand, and a nice selection of soup makings [jars of beef and chicken glaze, fresh veggies, barley and noodles, and canned chicken and beef chunks, and a couple of canned hams] The woodstove is freshly de-ashed and ready to go.

We go to bed. It starts snowing at around 1 am. We get an INCH of snow. We get no ice. We get no sleet. We get no electricity when we wake up in the morning. All teh schools and stores around are closed. As we drive off on the closed roads with an inch of snow on them, we marvel that there is no traffic as I try to drop him off at the sub base in new london, which was closed by the blizzard. We get stopped by the cops while returning home to enjoy the snow day and patiently explain to them that I grew up in an area where we might have a snow day if there was more than 6 inches overnight.

Some jackass hit the power pole at the end of the street, taking out power to something like 50 homes, which took 2 days to fix.

We enjoyed the long weekend, scrounged enough snow to make a 7 inch tall snowman - denuding most of the yard. We made a bug pot of split pea and ham soup on the woodstove and played monopoly a lot, and read books. The only downside was having to be circumspect in flushing the john as we only had 8 gallons of water alloted for the john after making the soup and having enough to drink [coffee, tea and hot cocoa]

We decided to get a generator that could do the 220v to run the pump to the well so we could flush next time the power was out.

I’ve been lucky to have power the whole time here in East Aurora. I know a lot of people haven’t been so fortunate like my friend from Orchard Park who spent the weekend on my sofa. Apparently we got within 6 hours of running out of water for the whole town since they couldn’t run the pumps. That definitely would not have been fun.

As a public safety announcement please be careful if you experience a snow like this that brings down large branches. A co-worker of mine lost her husband to a falling branch while he was out shoveling. It’s just not worth having a clear driveway the moment the snow stops.