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Buffalo hit by ‘most devastating storm’ in city’s history, governor says

(NEW YORK) — At least 39 people have died from the wintry weather wreaking havoc across the U.S. over Christmas weekend.

The highest number of fatalities is in New York state, where 17 people have died in the wake of a massive snowstorm, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Ten of New York’s deaths are in the city of Buffalo. Mark Poloncarz, the executive of Erie County, which encompasses Buffalo, said he expects more fatalities.

The “colossal” snowstorm brought winds of nearly 80 mph to Buffalo, the governor said.

“This will go down in history as the most devastating storm” in Buffalo, Hochul said during a Christmas morning news conference.

Buffalo initiated a travel ban as blizzard conditions moved in.

“I cannot overstate how dangerous the conditions still are,” Hochul said Sunday, urging people to stay off the roads on Christmas.

This storm marked the first time in history that the Buffalo Fire Department couldn’t respond to any calls, officials said. National Guardsmen have been called in.

Hundreds of people have been rescued from cars, Hochul said, adding, “we still have people who need to be rescued.”

Buffalo’s airport will be closed until Tuesday.

Weather-related fatalities were also reported in Ohio, Vermont, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky.

The storm comes as brutally cold air slammed the country on Christmas morning.

The temperature was forecast to plunge to minus 9 degrees in Minneapolis, 2 degrees in Chicago, 3 degrees in Denver, 15 degrees in New York, 16 degrees in Atlanta and 21 degrees in Dallas.

More than 165,000 customers woke up without power on Christmas morning across Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida.

Over 3,000 flights were canceled into, out of or within the U.S. on Christmas Eve, and more than 2,000 flights were canceled on Christmas Day.

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