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Heavy blizzards coming from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario caused 1.5 meter snow banks across New York. Authorities say the two victims died of heart attacks caused by overexertion while shoveling snow. The two victims were from Erie County, reports the Reuters.

The blizzards began on Thursday with a sudden drop in temperatures, well before the official start of the winter season. According to the National Meteorological Service, the stormy weather will last until Sunday, and the temperature may drop by 20 degrees.

By Friday evening, nearly two meters of snow had fallen in the village of Orchard Park in Erie County, and the situation was similar in Buffalo, 25 kilometers away. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported that a building partially collapsed in the city of Hamburg due to the weight of the snow, but did not provide further details.

The blowing snow was often accompanied by thunder and lightning. The stormy snow broke several power lines, which left thousands of New Yorkers without power, and the traffic stopped at the crossings and on the highways.

All but five of the 80 flights from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on Friday were canceled, said Lee Weitz, director of the organization. Mark Poloncarz tweeted about the deaths of the two Erie County residents.

Erie County declared a public holiday on Friday, and students were not required to go to school.