About 60.5 inches of snow piled up in the lakefront city from about 7 p.m. on Sunday to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Since Saturday, approximately 63 inches have fallen, and even more snow is expected. The National Weather Center declared that the Christmas Day snowfall of 34 inches broke the record set in any single day, surpassing Erie's 1956 record of 22 inches.
According to Tom Niziol, a winter weather expert at The Weather Channel, the city may be buried in 70 inches of snow by Wednesday night, before the storm finally begins to dwindle.
— Drew (@DrewMacFarlane) December 26, 2017
The unprecedented holiday storm is what Niziol referred to as a "lake-effect snowstorm," created when very cold air passes over the warmer waters of the Great Lakes. The snow is produced by heat and moisture rising into the cold air. The direction of the wind determines where the snow eventually falls.
"It's like sticking one end of a giant fire hose into Lake Erie and pointing the other end at Erie, Pennsylvania — and leaving it there for 30 hours," Niziol explained, the New York Times reported.
— David Wolter (@DavidWolter1) December 26, 2017
Joe Sinnott, Erie's mayor and a lifelong resident, claims that he has never seen a snowfall like this one.
"We're used to snow, don't get me wrong. But this amount, trying to deal with this, is very atypical," Sinnott said.
The city declared a "snow emergency" on Tuesday, urging people to stay indoors.
— Sue Palka FOX 5 DC (@suepalkafox5dc) December 27, 2017
"This is an incredible amount of snow that we're trying to move," the Erie Police Department also warned in a Tuesday statement.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf deployed 21 Pennsylvania National Guard troops equipped with all-terrain military vehicles on Tuesday to help residents shovel out their cars and driveways. Flights to and from Erie International airport have also been canceled. So far, no injuries or deaths caused by the historic snowstorm have been reported.