Blizzard of 77 - How Many People Died?

March 17, 2024

Blizzard of 77: How many people died?

An arctic blast accompanied by heavy snowfall caused deadly crashes, left people stranded in their cars and homes without power and buried the region under record amounts of snow. It also cost more than $5 billion in damage.

Known as the "bomb cyclone" for the way it accelerated through a wide region, the storm was one of the most catastrophic in history and caused the death of at least 29 people in Erie County alone. Many of the deaths were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning or exposure in snowbanks. Others were the result of delayed emergency response as snow blocked access to the scene.

Cities like Buffalo are subjected to lake-effect snow systems that sweep across Lake Erie, picking up moisture from the cold water and depositing it upon reaching land. This meant that the snowy blizzard was far more severe closer to the lake than farther inland, and created snowdrifts that swallowed entire houses.

A good Samaritan found a woman kneeling beside the road, dead of hypothermia. She had been unable to get up when her car broke down, and the snow was so deep that she could not walk back to her home.

Hundreds of people were trapped in their cars, homes or snowbanks during the blizzard of 1977. Some were rescued by crews on snowmobiles, and stories of survival are told to this day, including one of a zoo animal that made its way through mountain-like drifts to reach an open door.


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