to being over -- especially with rain in the weekend forecast.
With up to 85 inches of snow having fallen in the area this week, a few roofs already had collapsed by Friday. But officials fear more collapses are on the way, thanks in part because the snow will soak up this weekend's rain, Erie County, New York, Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters Thursday.
"There's going to be a warm-up on Saturday, there will probably not be a tremendous amount of melt on Saturday," he said. "There will be a rain starting on Saturday that will not initially create a situation where the snow will melt, but it will actually act as a sponge. So the water that is falling will go into the snow pack and will actually act as a sponge until it finally starts releasing it."
The National Weather Service forecasts light rain to begin Saturday and temperatures to warm. The major concern is flooding, but Poloncarz said the weight on buildings could cause some to collapse.
"There will be even extra weight because of the rain. So this emergency is not over," he warned.
About 30 roofs collapsed from Thursday night into Friday morning, Erie County Deputy Executive Richard Tobe told reporters Friday morning.
At least 13 people have died in connection with the snowfall, Poloncarz said Friday. The latest to be counted was a 50-year-old man whose body was found in a vehicle in Cheektowaga, New York, he said.
The death toll also includes two senior citizens who died of natural causes after or while they were evacuated Thursday from a nursing home in Cheektowaga, Erie County officials said. Residents of the 184-bed Garden Gate Health Care Facility were evacuated because officials believed the roof was ready to collapse under several feet of snow.
Residents had reported wall cracks and a sagging ceiling.
It wasn't immediately clear if the two residents' deaths were related to the evacuation, but Erie County officials added those deaths to the 11 others this week connected to the snowfall.
And the storm forced the NFL to announce that Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, scheduled to be played at the Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium, will take place at Detroit's Ford Field on Monday night.
But even leaving the Buffalo area had its complications. Before meeting at the Bills' stadium Friday morning to get on a bus to the airport, some of the players had to be picked up by snowmobile because of driving bans in certain areas, team spokesman Scott Berchtold said.