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Buffalo, N.Y., snowstorm closes airport, strands schoolchildren

cars
Stranded cars sit motionless on snowy Buffalo roadways Tuesday morning  

BUFFALO, New York (CNN) -- The Buffalo-Niagara International Airport remained closed this morning after a pre-Thanksgiving storm buried Buffalo, New York, with record snowfall.

Police at Buffalo Airport said it would remain closed until at least noon. Schools were closed for the day.

More than 24 inches of snow fell over 24 hours Monday, stranding schoolchildren and motorists, bringing traffic to a standstill and prompting officials to declare a local state of emergency.

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TEST Click here for pictures of the Bufffalo snowstorm
 

The National Weather Service said the storm had resulted in the third highest snowfall over a 24-hour period with 24.8 inches.

John Fahey, superintendent of transportation for Buffalo schools, said about 200 students had to be sheltered in public buildings. The Buffalo school system serves 44,000 children.

With the loss of radio communications from one of the city's school bus terminals, some parents were unable to determine where their children were, officials said.

Fahey said the school system launched a concerted telephone effort to contact parents. Some children, he said, spent the night in locations away from home.

stranded
People in Buffalo, New York, try to push a stranded car out of the snow  

About 25 students were spending the night at Early Childhood Center School No. 54 in the city's central district. That school buses about 350 of its 600 students, ages 4 to 8, principal Elizabeth Martina said.

"One bus left and returned with our students," Martina said. "Two other buses from other schools stopped at our school because they had students who had been on a bus for four hours."

The remaining children and staff turned classrooms into makeshift shelters using napping cots for bedding. What would have been the Thanksgiving meal has provided an ample supply of food for the stranded crew, Martina said.

The storm was called a "lake-effect event."

In such storms, cold air blows across Lake Erie and absorbs warmer air. The weather can vary from locally heavy snow in narrow bands to clear skies just a few miles away, creating dangerous driving conditions from poor visibility.



RELATED STORY:
Snow expected in Great Lakes region
November 20, 2000


RELATED SITES:
City of Buffalo


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