Buffalo declares a state of emergency as it braces for brunt of lake-effect snowstorm

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A historic lake-effect snow event will blanket parts of the country in white over the weekend, with up to 5 feet of snow possible in Buffalo, New York.

The event, originating in the Great Lakes stretching from the Midwest to parts of the Northeast, has already seen flurries, with some areas in western Michigan, northern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania picking up as much as 10 inches.

The Buffalo, New York metro area is in the bullseye of the event, with heavy snow set to hit the area Thursday evening and lasting up to 48 hours, if not longer.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency for 11 counties on Thursday, saying the state and the Buffalo area are “prepared” to bear the brunt of the major “life-threatening” storm. She said the Department of Transportation, the National Guard and snow plows are on standby.

She urged locals to stay off the road as visibility “will be barely zero” and said schools will be closed. She said locals are also being encouraged to work remotely and stay home if possible.

New York State Police said the commercial vehicle ban will take effect at 4 p.m. Thursday in western New York on several roads, including the full length of Interstate 290, Interstate 990, Route 33 and Route 400.

Snow will fall in Erie, Pennsylvania on Wednesday.Christopher Millette / Erie Times-News / USA Today Network

Lake-effect snow occurs when Arctic air rushes over the relatively milder waters of the Great Lakes each fall. This snowfall can be intense, but is often localized.

Climate change has influenced such events. As the planet has warmed from the increase in greenhouse gases, the lakes have also warmed, meaning there is more evaporation into the atmosphere during the winter, leading to an increase in lake-effect snow.

However, this trend is not expected to continue in the long term. On the contrary, by the end of the 21st century, there is predicted to be a shortened lake-effect snow season, and instead of peaking in autumn and early winter, it will later be pushed back to January through March.

Snowfall at this week’s event could increase to 1 to 3 inches per hour from Thursday night through Friday, accompanied by thunderstorm snow. Lake-effect snow will continue through Sunday for areas downwind of the lakes.

Between 4 and 5 feet of snow can fall in the Buffalo metro area. Meanwhile, between 1 and 3 feet of snow is possible for places like Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The National Weather Service described the snow event as “crippling” with expected snowfall rates in excess of 2 inches per hour, “creating near-impossibility of travel.”

Temperatures in the United States are also expected to drop as an arctic blast is expected to bring the coldest air of the season.

Much of the country will feel below average on Thursday, continuing into the weekend.

The cold arctic air mass will lead to the first freeze for some major metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and the first dangerously cold chills of the season for places like Chicago and New York.

Minneapolis will see a maximum of 27 degrees on Thursday, Chicago a maximum of 33 degrees and New York and Washington a maximum of 46 degrees.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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