New York state residents dig out after heavy snowstorm

STORY: "It would be like a winter wonderland but with no candy," a child told Reuters on Saturday (November 19), as residents began digging out.

Local authorities reported at least two deaths, thousands of customers experienced power outages and several highways were closed after the storm dumped heavy snow on parts of western New York state on Friday.

As the storm gained momentum, the National Weather Service cited multiple instances in which snow squalls were accompanied by claps of thunder and flashes of lightning, a phenomenon called "thunder snow."

By Friday evening, the weather service reported 5 1/2 feet of snow measured in the Erie County village of Orchard Park, 15 miles south of Buffalo and more directly in the downwind of path of frozen moisture blasting inland off Lake Erie.

Snowfalls of such proportions are not uncommon for western New York in November, when the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes can mix with frigid air in the upper atmosphere dropping down from the Arctic, according to the weather service.