Buffalo (US): A snowfall that brought huge drifts and closed roads in the Buffalo area finally ended today, yet residents still couldn't breathe easy, as the looming threat of rain and higher temperatures through the weekend and beyond raised the possibility of floods and more roofs collapsing under the heavy loads.
More than 30 roof collapses, most involving farm and flat-roof buildings, were reported overnight, officials said today. Little or no snow was expected today, and the forecast called for a chance of rain tomorrow and more on Monday, along with temperatures approaching 60 degrees.
Even for the Buffalo area, one of America's snowiest places, the snowfall was historic, as the three-day total neared 2.4 meters, the amount the region typically gets over an entire year. Some areas got close to 0.9 meters of new snow by yesterday afternoon.
The storms were blamed for at least 12 deaths in western New York, mostly from exposure and heart attacks, including several people who were shovelling snow. The most recent victims were two elderly residents of a nursing home that was evacuated amid concerns of a roof collapse, Deputy Erie County Executive Richard Tobe said today.
Things could quickly get worse for the region on Lake Erie: Rain and temperatures as high as 15.5 Celsius were forecast over the weekend, raising the spectre of flooding and an even heavier load on roofs.
Gov Andrew Cuomo begged drivers to stay off slippery, car-clogged roads in while crews tried to dig out.
With roads impassable, driving bans in effect and the Buffalo Bills' stadium buried in snow, the National Football League decided to move the Bills' Sunday home game against the New York Jets to Monday night in Detroit. Earlier in the day, Cuomo said holding the game would jeopardise public safety.
More than 50 people were evacuated from several mobile home parks because roofs were buckling. In one town authorities said more than a dozen structures collapsed, as did a metal warehouse operated by a Christmas decorations company.
Local media reported that about 180 residents of an assisted living facility were evacuated after staff members noticed the ceiling bulging under the weight of the snow.
Homeowners and store employees around the region climbed onto roofs to shovel off the snow and reduce the danger.
National Guardsmen drove nurses to work their hospital shifts. State police helped elderly residents trapped in their homes. State officials assembled 463 plows, 129 loaders and 40 dump trucks from across the state.
A stretch of the New York State Thruway, the state's main highway, remained closed, with more than 300 truckers idled.