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National Guard deployed to help dig out Buffalo

Schools and businesses closed, as did a stretch of the New York State Thruway.

By Ed Adamczyk

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The National Guard was deployed Tuesday afternoon to help dig areas of Buffalo out of snow that could top 70 inches by the end of the day.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the order to deploy the National Guard after a conference with Erie County Supervisor Mark Poloncarz.

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The southern suburbs of the city received up to three feet of snow overnight as cold weather struck the northeastern and Great Lakes regions of the United States.

The storm "will continue to hammer these locations," said David Thomas of Buffalo's National Weather Service office, referring to areas adjacent to Lake Erie.

RELATED Upstate New York gears up for first 'lake effect' storm

Buffalo's most severe winter weather is typically the result of "lake effect" storms in which cold air travels eastward over the warm lake, but the current storm system has essentially parked itself in western New York and is expected to stay until at least Thursday.

Buffalo's northern suburbs received little snow, but the 15- to 20-mile band of snow is expected to remain stationary Tuesday and move northward by Wednesday.

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Forecasters are predicting snowfall totals could reach 70 to 75 inches by the end of Tuesday this fresh wave of snow hits the city.

RELATED More wintry weather expected across the U.S.

"It think it's going to take many days to dig out the Southtowns," said Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Schools and businesses closed Tuesday throughout the area, and plane flights were cancelled, but the downtown area thus far has seen little snow. The nearby southern suburbs of Hamburg, West Seneca and Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills will play a football game Sunday, are under two to three feet of snow, the National Weather Service said. Those towns received up to four inches of snow per hour Monday night.

The New York State Thruway, Interstate 90, was closed at 4 a.m. Tuesday from Exit 59, near the New York-Pennsylvania border, to Exit 46 in the suburbs of Rochester, a stretch of about 130 miles, due to white-out conditions.

"This will be a historic event. Absolutely. It is a historic event," said Dave Zaff, also with the weather service.

Meanwhile, the entire country is bracing for record low temperatures as this second blast of Arctic air pushes south.

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The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region is expected to see highs in the teens and 20s Tuesday into Wednesday for what could be the longest period of sub-freezing temperatures the region has seen in the month of November.

In parts of the southeast, highs will be in the 30s and 40s and the Appalachians and northern plans will see highs in the single digits on Wednesday. Even places as far south as Florida are forecast to have below freezing temperatures.

Danielle Haynes contributed to this report.

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