Buffalo snow: Worst of what could be a historic snowstorm forecast to hit western part of New York today


Heavy snowfall in western New York state will continue Friday, when the worst possible storm in history could bring down trees and damage property.

“Falling snow will produce near zero visibility, difficult to impossible travel, damage to infrastructure, and paralyzing the hardest hit communities,” the National Weather Service said Thursday. “Extremely cold weather will accompany this event, with temperatures 20 degrees below normal expected at the end of the week.”

“Historical snowfall in excess of 4 feet is likely around Buffalo,” he added Friday.

About 6 million people in five Great Lakes states — from Wisconsin to New York — are under snow warnings Friday, CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink said. Lake-effect snow will continue through Sunday in areas downwind of the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service.

By Friday morning, the heaviest snowpacks were over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, bringing snowfall rates to 2 inches per hour in and around Buffalo and Watertown, New York.

Up to 4 feet of snow is forecast in Buffalo, New York.

As the region prepares for more:

• Commercial traffic was banned on some roads, though some bans were replaced by travel advisories Friday morning.

• Flights are canceled at the Buffalo airport, which already has more than a foot of snow.

• The NFL moved Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit.

• Parts of Oswego County near Lake Ontario received 2 feet of snow Thursday evening.

• Buffalo area expected up to 4 to 5 feet.

• Areas east of Lakes Erie and Ontario could see 3 inches or more of snow per hour, with occasional lightning and gusty winds.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who urged residents to take precautions this weekend, described the storm as a “major” snowfall event that could be as life-threatening as the November 2014 blizzard. killed 20 people in the Buffalo region.

“This level of snow falling with this intensity is what creates the danger of poor visibility on the roads,” Hochul said Thursday as he declared a state of emergency for 11 counties.

“When it gets down to that speed, it’s almost impossible to clear the road to make it safe to travel,” he said. “It will not be safe for motorists to return to the roads for a considerable amount of time.”

Firefighters responded Thursday in Snyder, New York, to a car accident on I-290.

Commercial traffic was banned Thursday afternoon on about 130 miles of the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) from the Rochester and Buffalo area to the Pennsylvania border, Hochul’s office said. Other parts of major interstates – including 90, 290 and 990 – were also closed.

In addition, officials in New York’s Erie County – which includes Buffalo – also declared a state of emergency and banned driving as of Thursday night.

“Lake effect snow from (the storm) is very heavy and can cause tree limbs to fall and damage vehicles, property or power lines. Watch where you park, and be aware of your surroundings if you go out,” Erie County officials wrote online.

The heaviest snow of the storm is expected to hit the Buffalo area, where more than 4 feet could fall, making it a forecast not seen in more than 20 years. The city’s three-day snowfall total was 56.1 inches, which occurred in December 2001, CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

In fact, given the rate of snowfall, Buffalo can see a month’s worth of snow in just a few hours. That could make this the snowiest November since 2000, when a total of 45.6 inches fell in the city throughout the month, Miller added.

Already, residents of Williamstown in Oswego County near Lake Ontario have seen 24 inches of snow since Thursday evening, according to the weather service. In neighboring Oneida County, some spots were covered with 14 inches of snow in the 24 hours before Thursday evening, according to the weather service.

Snowmobiles in Buffalo, New York.

Friday alone could bring more than 2 feet of snow, making it one of the first three snowiest days in Buffalo, according to Miller.

“Heavy lake effect snow on Lake Erie with 2-3″ snowfall rates per hour will continue to cause very difficult travel this evening for the Buffalo Metro area east of Batavia, as well as Oswego County on Lake Ontario,” the National Weather Service. Buffalo said Thursday night

He added on Friday, “An additional 2-3 feet of snow accumulation is expected downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario during 8-12” likely downwind of the other 3 lakes by Sunday morning.

The snow lake effect occurs when very cold wind conditions form over a relatively warm lake — meaning the lake could be 40 degrees while the air is zero degrees, Miller explained. The temperature conflict creates instability, allowing more extreme winter weather to occur.

Other areas affected by the storm include parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and western Lower Peninsula, where gusty winds and heavy snow will also cause near-zero visibility and hazardous travel conditions.


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