US snow storm covers houses in ice as people struggle to dig out after deadly blizzards

Houses encased in thick ice have been revealed in drone video of Lake Erie - as people in North America struggle to dig out after deadly blizzards.

The frozen houses in Ontario took the brunt of the storms as they directly face the Canadian side of the lake.

An icy white blanket - which from a distance looks like icing on a cake - covers the entire front of the Fort Erie properties.

At least 65 people have died as a result of the extreme weather, with the region in and around Buffalo, New York state, emerging as ground zero for an Arctic deep freeze.

Confirmed storm-related deaths in the counties of Erie and Niagara counties rose to 32 on Tuesday, officials said.

Flood warnings have been issued for later this week as the snow and ice thaws, and with rain also forecast.

Large parts of North America have been battling a huge bomb cyclone – the deadliest US storm for at least two generations – since last week.

While snowfall has started to taper off, emergency services are continuing to locate and remove vehicles left behind under mounds of snow and drifts several feet high.

Some of the dead were found frozen in cars, or died in medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest while shovelling snow, Erie County Executive Mark Polocarz said.

"Please, please, do not drive in the city of Buffalo, unless you are emergency personnel," he said, explaining that "too many people" have been ignoring a driving ban that is currently in place.

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"We're recovering from the worst storm I've ever seen, certainly in terms of death from mother nature's wrath," he added.

Military police called in to help

In and around Buffalo, up to 52 inches (1.32m) of snow fell over four days, and a bit more was expected by Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The county has called in 100 military police from the state National Guard as well as officers from New York City to help
manage traffic and enforce road restrictions.

But the situation is not expected to get better any time soon, with the NWS now forecasting a rapid thaw later this week, along with rain, which could cause flooding and difficult conditions.

"It'll be warming up soon. By Thursday, the high will be 8C. By Saturday it'll be 12C," meteorologist Bob Oravec said.

Roads are in the process of being cleared to allow for the melted snow to drain properly, with front-loader tractors brought in to shovel it into dump trucks, which will discard it elsewhere.

Mr Poloncarz said it would take two days to open one lane in every city street.

Thousands still without electricity

Not only are the roads affected, but some 4,500 customers were still without electricity on Tuesday due to the storm, according to Mr Polocarz.

President Joe Biden has authorised federal support to help those left without power.

Flights have also been impacted with Southwest Airlines, who are based in Dallas, Texas, forced to cancel more than 12,000 flights since Friday due to the adverse conditions.

On Tuesday, it cancelled more than two-thirds of its 4,000 scheduled flights, accounting for more than 90% of all US airline cancellations, tracking website FlightAware showed.