Police and National Guard members were going door-to-door on Wednesday to check on residents of some Buffalo neighbourhoods after a deadly Christmas blizzard dropped about 140cm (55 inches) of snow on New York’s second-largest city.

The storm, driven by an arctic blast, brought freezing temperatures as far south as the Mexican border, leaving dozens dead nationwide, including 34 in Buffalo and surrounding Erie County and one in Niagara County.

More than 60 people across the US were reported to have died as a result of the blizzard that raged on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures were expected to rise to about seven degrees Celsius (44 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday and about 11 degrees Celsius (51 Fahrenheit) by Friday.

A driving ban remained in effect for Buffalo, with military and New York City police officers called in to wave cars off the road and turn away traffic trying to enter the city.

Almost all electricity was restored by Wednesday morning and temperatures were warming as Buffalo continued to dig out.

About 75 front-end loaders were working around the clock to shovel tonnes of snow into about 120 dump trucks to be hauled to four city and county lots. The goal was to have at least one lane of traffic open on each street by Wednesday night, officials said.

Some of those who died in the storm in New York were found frozen in cars, and others in snowbanks, while some died from medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest while shovelling snow.

Across the country, travel chaos has spread as families hoping to catch a Southwest Airlines flight after days of cancellations, missing luggage and missed family connections have endured another wave of scrubbed flights, with 2,500 pulled from arrival and departure boards on Wednesday.

This week, with cancellations from other major airlines ranging from 0 to 2 percent, Southwest had cancelled 14,500 flights since Friday, the Reuters news agency reported. The airline warned of thousands more cancellations on Thursday and Friday, according to FlightAware.

Exhausted travellers sought passage by other means, using different airlines, rental cars, or trains – or they have simply given up.

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By nmybx

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