- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

5:06 p.m.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo lay all but paralyzed today after a record-breaking early snowstorm whited out the brilliant colors of fall, buried pumpkins and apples and caught this city famous for its wintry weather flat-flooted. At least three deaths were blamed on the storm.

The heavy, wet snow snapped tree limbs all over western New York, leaving some 380,000 homes and businesses without power.

A state of emergency was in effect across the region, banning all nonessential travel. Branches and power lines lay draped across cars and houses, and normally busy downtown streets were still, blanketed by up to 2 feet of snow.

“I thought it was kind of pretty but eerie,” said Ann Goff, who walked to her job at a Buffalo supermarket in the middle of the night. “It was scary listening to the cracking of the branches.”

The snow, delivered in a fury of thunder and lightning, blanketed Buffalo and surrounding areas last night and early today. A 105-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway was closed for hours, and food and water had to be delivered by snowmobile to stranded motorists.

Many municipal trucks were still working to remove leaves yesterday and did not have plows attached when the surprise storm hit.

As workers sawed and hoisted fallen tree limbs full of autumn color, Bitsy Kosovac, 68, of Point Richmond, Calif., tried to trudge out from her Buffalo hotel for a morning walk in ankle-length boots and a light jacket. A foot of slushy snow and the howling wind stopped her before she could get out of the parking lot.

“If I had better shoes, I would,” the Texas native said, trying to turn the storm into another adventure in her group’s fall foliage tour of Mark Twain historic sites.

One of the deaths was a teenager struck by a car while walking in Niagara County. Another person was killed in a two-car accident in Lancaster, and a third person died after being hit by a falling tree limb while shoveling snow in Amherst, officials said.

Ambulance crews brought oxygen to the elderly and drove patients to dialysis treatments.

8.6 inches of snow fell yesterday - the snowiest October day in Buffalo in the weather service’s 137-year history. The record lasted for all of one day, as a foot of snow fell early today. The old record was 6 inches, set on Oct. 31, 1917.

The snow began melting as bright sunshine emerged and temperatures warmed into the 40s. But the wind continued to howl, raising fears more trees would topple.

“My yard looks like pick-up sticks with the trees,” said Rep. Thomas Reynolds, a Republican from suburban Clarence.

Schoolchildren who began the week with a summerlike Columbus Day holiday ended it with a snow day.

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