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A second band of lake-effect snow pounded cities and towns near Buffalo, New York, early Thursday, piling more misery on communities already paralyzed by a 5-foot blanket of snow. Authorities confirmed an eighth death blamed on the storm.
“A few areas are getting close to a foot right now, but the worst of it is the additional accumulation and that will occur today,” The Weather Channel’s Michael Palmer said. “So its just going to prolong people getting in and trying clearing the snow away — that’s just not going to happen until the weekend.”
The Buffalo area was buried under as much as 5½ feet of snow Wednesday. Two additional feet were expected in some areas during the day, topping off with another 5 to 8 inches on Thursday night.
The eighth death was a 60-year-old man who had a heart condition and was stricken while operating a snowblower, said authorities in Erie County, which includes Buffalo.
Because wet air blowing in from Lake Erie is so much warmer than the prevailing air in the region, the result will again be thunderstorms that drop snow, not rain — the oddity called thundersnow.
The snow had taken a break in downtown Buffalo by 6:30 a.m. ET, but was picking up steam south of the city, with areas such as Dunkirk, Gowanda and Springville especially hard hit, according to The Weather Channel.
“It may still come back [to Buffalo] late morning, early afternoon,” Palmer said. “Buffalo may not be done with this, and they’re getting creamed in areas that got heavy snow on Tuesday.”
The new snow began falling as troopers in all-terrain vehicles and rescue crews working without sleep were still trying to reach drivers trapped in the first wave of the ferocious storm.
About 140 miles of Interstate 90, the main artery running east and west across New York state, remained closed Thursday morning, from Rochester to the New York-Pennsylvania state line. There was no word when it would reopen.
More than 100 cars were reported trapped at one time. Drivers ran out of food and patience.
“Mother Nature is showing us who's boss once again," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. "This is an historic event. When all is said and done, this snowstorm will break all sorts of records, and that's saying something in Buffalo.”
A Greyhound bus was stranded for a day and a half on I-90. People stared out the windows at a highway littered with abandoned cars. The bus was running on a generator, and passengers could charge their phones, but they were hungry, said Endjie Ulysses, a college student who was on board.
After 34 hours, the people on board were finally rescued by a state trooper.
"I'm feeling OK. I'm just tired," Ulysses told NBC News by phone from the bus. "I've only slept for about two or three hours."
Authorities around Buffalo reported the fifth, sixth and seventh deaths from the snowstorm: a 46-year-old man found in a car, someone who had a heart attack while operating a snowblower and an elderly man who needed care for what doctors called an "urgent cardiac condition" who died because rescue crews couldn't get him to a hospital. Four deaths were reported Tuesday, one in a car crash and three from heart attacks, including two people who were shoveling snow.
On social media, people posted pictures of drifts taller than their garage doors and of whole houses all but invisible under thick, white blankets of snow. Authorities responded to 911 calls as they could, but ambulances couldn't get down side streets in some places.
The towns south of Buffalo were believed to be the hardest hit. The National Weather Service said some places could approach the record for a single-day snowfall in the U.S., 6 feet 4 inches.
Outside, the temperature hovered in the high teens, with a wind chill below zero.
The totals that came in from cities and towns in western New York were daunting: 5 feet 5 inches in Cheektowaga, 5 feet 3 inches in Lancaster, 5 feet in Gardenville.
There was 4 feet of snow in Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills are set to host an NFL game Sunday, against the New York Jets. The team put out a call for volunteers to help shovel the stadium clear of snow — an estimated 220,000 tons of it — and offered $10 an hour, plus tickets to the game.
Temperatures are expected to climb above freezing by Saturday — raising the possibility of flooding as massive banks of snow begin to melt.
"When we say stay home, really, stay home," Cuomo said.
On Wednesday, the focus was on the trapped. Before dawn, a college basketball team had to be rescued after its bus got stuck in heavy snow for 26 hours about 50 miles from its home campus in Buffalo.
Elsewhere, the last of 40 people who'd been stranded at a highway toll booth were rescued Wednesday morning, said Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County executive.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 10 counties, and the National Guard was activated to help clean up. The state deployed 526 snowplows and 17 large snowblowers.
The snow pattern was part of a punishing blast of cold air so broad that temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below. In all, 22 deaths have been reported across the country since Saturday.
F. Brinley Bruton and M. Alex Johnson of NBC News contributed to this report.