EMS delays, broken heating systems, and other blizzard conditions push Buffalo winter storm's death toll to at least 27

EMS delays, broken heating systems, and other blizzard conditions push Buffalo winter storm's death toll to at least 27
Buffalo, New York received 4 feet of snow over 4 days in a blizzard that has been more deadly than the famous 1977 storm. As of Dec. 26, snow was still falling.Anadolu Agency / Contributor/ Getty Images
  • Snow and hurricane-level winds hit Buffalo, New York, for four days straight this Christmas.
  • The storm has caused power outages, trapped people, and blocked ambulances

This weekend's winter storm Elliot has become the most lethal blizzard that Buffalo, New York, has seen in at least 100 years.

At least 27 people have died in the city as of 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, said Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, in what Gov. Kathy Hochul called the "blizzard of the century."

In a post on Facebook, Poloncarz said 14 of those were found dead outside, another four people died from being trapped inside without heat, and 3 died because emergency services could not get to them. Three people died inside their car, and three died from cardiac events while shoveling, according to the post.

Freezing temperatures, hurricane-like winds and over four feet of snow wreaked havoc since Friday filling the Christmas holiday with tragedy in the western New York city, home to nearly 277,000.

"It is devastating. It is going to a war zone," Hochul, a Buffalo-native, said in a news conference on Christmas day, adding it would "go down history as the most devastating storm," in a city known for its harsh winters and frequent snowfall. The death toll now dwarfs the blizzard of 1977 in Buffalo, when 23 people died, according to Syracuse.com.


Dubbed a "bomb cyclone," the intensity of the blizzard is the result of a rapid increase in the storm pressure system — one where temperatures drop dramatically in a short period, local news station WNBC reported.

Throughout the country, a total of 57 have died in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, according to NBC News.

Despite the tragedy, there has also heartwarming stories to come out of Buffalo this weekend: firefighters brought a family to stay at the firehouse for Christmas after they were left without power; and a local couple hosted 10 international tourists as they waited out Elliot's wrath.