A powerful blizzard that paralyzed western New York over Christmas weekend has killed at least 25 people, Erie county officials said on Monday, as road and utility crews faced a long day of digging out the snowed-in region around Buffalo.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters at a Monday morning briefing that the county’s tally of storm-related deaths had jumped by 12 overnight, and included cases of people who were found in snow banks, in their cars or who had died from cardiac events while plowing or blowing snow.

More deaths had been reported, Poloncarz said, but the county medical examiner was trying to determine if they were directly attributable to the weather.

The blizzard, deemed the area’s worst in 45 years, took form late on Friday and pummeled western New York through the Christmas holiday weekend. Itcapped an Arctic freeze and winter storm front that had extended over most of the United States for days, stretching as far south as the Mexican border.

At least 50 people have died in U.S. weather-related incidents since late last week, according to an NBC News tally.

The greater Buffalo region, lying at the edge of Lake Erie near the Canadian border, was one of the hardest-hit places.

Numbing cold combined with howling winds and heavy “lake-effect” snow – the result of moisture picked up by frigid air moving over warmer lake waters – produced a storm that Governor Kathy Hochul said would go down in history as “the Blizzard of ’22.”

The governor called it an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster that ranked as the fiercest winter storm to hit Buffalo, New York state’s second-largest city, since a crippling 1977 blizzard that killed nearly 30 people.