New York is bracing for possible flooding as warm temperatures are expected to melt several feet of snow that has accumulated from a deadly winter storm, while the West expects heavy rain and snow through the end of the week. according to the National Weather Service.
Highs are expected in the mid-40s in New York City and Buffalo on Thursday, where temperatures will likely climb into the 50s within the next two days. Earlier this week, the Buffalo area recorded temperatures as low as 4 degrees, according to the agency.
New York won’t be alone: Temperatures across much of the country “will warm dramatically compared to those at the start of the week,” the weather service said in a bulletin Thursday morning, with eastern states set to see record highs. in the 1950s and 1960s. The forecast comes a day after the nonprofit organization Berkeley Earth said 2022 is likely to be the fifth warmest year on record.
Dallas could see a high of 71 degrees on Thursday, while Chicago and Washington, DC, could see a high of 57 degrees. Dallas will see highs in the 60s and 70s this holiday weekend, while the nation’s capital will see highs in the 50s and 60s. The highs in Chicago will be comparatively more moderate, in the low 50s between Friday and Sunday. .
Snow to melt in Buffalo as travel resumes
The warming will help melt snow in areas of western New York that remain buried under several feet.
In Western New York, snowmelt alone does not typically cause major or widespread flooding and usually must occur concurrently with a heavy rain event, which is not in the forecast for that region, although it is possible for them to occur. some localized flooding in the next few days.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services warned in a tweet that “the combination of higher temperatures, rain, and snowmelt can cause basement flooding, water pooling in low-lying areas, and ice jams” and urged people to contact their local fire department or emergency management office. if you have concerns about flooding.
Governor Kathy Hochul Wednesday ordered state agencies to prepare to respond to flooding caused by snowmelt. The state has more than 300 pumps, more than 300 generators and more than 775,000 sandbags available to deploy in case of flooding, according to a news release from her office.
The anticipated thaw comes as Buffalo, the epicenter of the storm in Erie County, lifted its travel ban at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, following an announcement by Mayor Byron Brown late Wednesday. A travel advisory is in place for the area, and Brown asks people to avoid driving unless necessary. Erie County remains in a state of emergency, officials said.
“Some people have been unable to restock on groceries, restock on medication, get to medical appointments, and being able to safely lift the travel ban will now allow people to do those important things,” Brown said.
All major state highways in western New York, including the Erie County portion of Interstate 190 and several state routes, also reopened at midnight. hochul announced. And the Buffalo airport, where nearly 52 inches of snow fell during the storm, according to the weather service — reopened on Wednesday.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters Thursday that flooding is expected to be minimal.
He also apologized Thursday “for letting my emotions get the best of me” after disparaging the city of Buffalo — and Brown — at a news conference Wednesday for taking too long to shovel snow off the streets. Poloncarz said he called and texted the mayor Wednesday night to discuss his comments, but they had not spoken as of Thursday afternoon.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News on Thursday.
in a tweet Early Thursday, Poloncarz urged locals to be careful when walking or driving as “hundreds of very large crews will still be cleaning the streets from curb to curb.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he has sent support from the state Department of Transportation, including 28 workers and more than a dozen vehicles, to New York to help with snow removal for the next six days after it the New York Emergency Management Agency made a plea. for help on Wednesday.
Poloncarz said in a cheep Wednesday night that 500 National Guardsmen conducted nearly 850 wellness checks on residents who experienced long-term power outages.
As of Thursday afternoon, 244 power customers, most of whom are New York State Electric and Gas customers, remained without power in Erie County. according to PowerOutage.us.
Search-and-rescue teams returned Thursday to check locations where bodies had been reported but could not be confirmed, either due to the amount of snow or inaccurate locations, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
In Erie County, 39 people were killed by the storm, Poloncarz told reporters Thursday, adding that 31 of those deaths were in Buffalo, seven in the surrounding suburbs and one in an unknown location. Most of the dead, 17, were found outside, while 11 were found in their homes, four were found in their cars, four died of cardiac events while shoveling, and three died after a delayed response by emergency medical personnel.
Most of the people who died, 20, were black, while 18 were white and one was Hispanic, hez said. Whites make up nearly half of Buffalo’s population, making up 48%, while Blacks make up 33% of the population, and Hispanics make up about 12%. based on the most recent data from the US Census Bureau..
At least 78 people were killed in the storm overall, according to an NBC News tally, and weather-related deaths were also reported in Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Vermont.
Stormy weather conditions from separate storm systems also proved fatal earlier this week in Oregon. Trees falling on cars killed five people, including a 4-year-old girl, in three separate incidents on Interstate 84 and Highway 26 Tuesday, according to the Oregon State Police.
Chance of rain and snow in the south and west
The South and the Gulf Coast could see strong thunderstorms Thursday, including the cities of Houston, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The primary risk will be damaging winds followed by hail and a low probability of a tornado.
Meanwhile, a series of storms will hit the West, and California in particular, from Thursday through the weekend. The West Coast and parts of the Deep South will receive “moderate to heavy precipitation” following a series of storm fronts moving west and exiting across the plains, according to the weather service.
Up to 15 million people are under a flood watch in northern and central California, where rainfall is expected to exceed 5 inches in some areas.
Northern and central California and parts of southwestern Oregon are slated to receive heavy rain and snow, with 3 to 6 inches of rain forecast in the latter region through early this weekend, possibly leading to “scattered cases.” of flash flooding,” the weather service said. . Snowfall in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, above 9,000 feet, could see up to 5 feet of snow.
Moderate to heavy snow could also fall in northern Nevada on Friday night, the agency said.
On New Year’s Eve, heavy rain will fall in the southeast as far as the Ohio Valley during the day and the mid-Atlantic to the northeast overnight, while the west will face a risk of flooding and continue heavy snow in the mountains.
On New Year’s Day, persistent downpours are expected across New England, above average temperatures are set for the South, and rain and snow are expected in the Southwest.