New York snowstorm: New York on alert as flooding becomes new threat to residents

13 people have died since the storm hit but as temperatures rise and rain begins to fall snow is set to turn into into record flooding

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The Independent US

As temperatures are forecast to rise, residents of Upstate New York are braced for another weather crisis as a year’s worth of snow begins to melt, which is expected to cause significant flooding.

The snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area in western New York State has been blamed for at least 13 deaths in the past week, where temperatures dropped below freezing and up to 7 ft of snow fell over three days.

Temperatures in the area rose on Saturday, and are expected to rise again on Sunday to around 15 degrees Celsius, but the change in weather will also bring rain, and the melting snow will bring floods.

The National Weather Service has now issued a flood warning to residents lasting until Wednesday due to the melting snow, while officials have warned that another major concern now is threat of roof collapses in the area. Reports suggest more than 30 roofs have already collapsed.

“Warming will bring melting. Melting will bring water. Water will bring floods,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters.

Governor Cuomo said the state will be sending in pumps, boats, helicopters and high-axle vehicles that can operate in up to 5ft of water.

“If we’re lucky we won’t need any of it,” he said, “but prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.

The National Weather Service expects flood-prone areas to be inundated, and warns there will be general flooding elsewhere.

“We expect five to six feet of water in some areas in a short period of time,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock said there might be trouble with drainage as snow and the uncollected autumn leaves underneath it blocked catch basins.

Two Buffalo residents attempt to remove some of the snow on their roof

“The biggest flood threat would be on Monday when temperatures are at their warmest,” he said, adding that “there could be general urban flooding”.

Officials have urged people to put off any non-essential travel so that snow removal efforts could progress, and dump trucks, military vehicles and front loaders have been seen rumbling through the streets of Buffalo as they strive to remove the walls of snow in the area.

On Saturday, the state Thruway, a 132-mile stretch of interstate highway, was reopened after the massive snowfall caused motorists to be stranded and the entire strip to be closed four days previously.

Additional reporting by AP