Buffalo, New York – Aparalyzed parts of western and northern New York, with in parts more than a foot of snow Friday morning and a driving ban keeping people in the Buffalo-area off the streets.
The heaviest snowfall was expected in Buffalo, where the National Weather Service said up to 4 feet could fall in some spots through Sunday, with periods of near-zero visibility. Other areas could get a foot or less of lake-effect snow, caused by frigid air picking up copious amounts of moisture from the warmer lakes.
Reports to the Weather Service early Friday topped a foot of snow on the east end of Lake Erie, with totals up to 20 inches in Hamburg, NY, about 12 miles from Buffalo.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday declared a state of emergency for parts of western New York, including communities on the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It includes 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic prohibited on a section of Interstate 90.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a driving ban beginning Thursday night, shortly after heavy snow punctuated by thunder and lightning — known as “thunder snow” — rolled into Buffalo and quickly covered the ground and streets. The most intense snowfall was expected to continue through Friday evening, with more falling Saturday through Sunday.
The Buffalo office of the National Weather Service offered an update:
CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB-TV said snow was falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour as early as late Thursday night, with a possible rate of up to 5 inches per hour.
Chris Luft reported on the conditions on Storyful late Thursday:
The administration has canceled Friday classes for students in Buffalo and across the county. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday, The Buffalo News reported, while numerous flights to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.
“I want western New Yorkers to take this seriously,” Hochul said.
Also before the storm, the NFL announced it would move Sunday’s home game of the Buffalo Bills against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit. The relocation means the Bills will play back-to-back in Detroit as they are scheduled to face the Lions on Thanksgiving.
The Weather Service also warned of accumulations of 2 feet or more of snow in northern New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and parts of northern Michigan through Sunday. Parts of Pennsylvania also saw accumulations of lake-effect snow.