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Record Christmas storm buries west Pennsylvania

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The city of Erie, Pa., may have had the whitest Christmas on record -- thanks to a winter storm that's dumped nearly 5 feet of snow there in the last two days, reported UPI (US).

On Monday, Erie received 34 inches -- shattering the city's previous record for most snow in a single day. Tuesday, it saw another 25 inches.

The snowfall is the highest two-day amount on record in Pennsylvania, forecasters said.

As snow buried the western Pennsylvania city, police warned residents to stay indoors and declared a snow emergency.

"Roads are dangerous and impassable," Erie police posted to Facebook. "This is an incredible amount of snow that we're trying to move and (we) appreciate resident cooperation. Residents should stay off of City of Erie streets until it stops snowing, and we can get the roads open."

Overall, the storm -- which began Sunday -- dropped a grand total of 63 inches of snow on the city, prompting 21 Pennsylvania National Guard troops to be put on active duty in the northwestern part of the state.

Forecasters say the heavy storms this week are a consequence of lake-effect snow, a phenomenon in which cold air combines with warmer lake water to create intense bands of snow.

Meteorologists say the lake-effect will continue through Wednesday and blanket parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

Total snow levels may reach up to 5 feet in the Tug Hill Plateau east of Lake Ontario and three feet in southwest New York, forecasters said.

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