New York snow: A potentially historic storm is bearing down on western New York state, bringing treacherous snowfall that could damage infrastructure



Thursday’s heavy snow that has battered parts of western New York state will continue until Friday, when the worst of the potentially historic storm could lead to the toppling of trees and property damage.

“The snowfall will lead to near-zero visibility, difficult to impossible travel, damage to infrastructure and paralyze the hardest-hit communities,” the National Weather Service said Thursday. “Very cold air will accompany this event, with temperatures reaching 20 degrees below normal forecast by the weekend.”

In areas east of Lakes Erie and Ontario, snow can fall at a rate of more than 3 inches per hour and be occasionally accompanied by lightning and gusts of wind, the weather service warned.

“That snow level coming down at that intensity creates the danger of the lack of visibility on the roads,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday as she declared a state of emergency for 11 counties.

“When it comes down at that rate, it’s almost impossible to clear the way for safe travel,” Hochul said. “It won’t be safe for motorists to get back on the road for quite some time.”

Commercial traffic has been banned since Thursday afternoon on about 210 miles of the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) in the Rochester and Buffalo area up to the Pennsylvania border, Hochul’s office said. In addition, other sections of major highways are also closed, including 90, 290 and 990.

While imploring residents to exercise caution this weekend, Hochul described the storm as a “big, big” snowfall that could be just as life-threatening as the November 2014 blizzard that killed 20 people in the Buffalo region.

Furthermore, officials in New York’s Erie County – which includes Buffalo – also declared a state of emergency and imposed a driving ban starting Thursday evening.

“The 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 watch your surroundings when you go outside,” Erie County officials wrote online.

The storm’s most intense snow is expected to hit the Buffalo, New York, area, where more than four feet could pile up, making a historic forecast not seen in more than 20 years. The highest three-day snowfall in the city is 56.1 inches, which occurred in December 2001, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.

And given the rapid snowfall, Buffalo can see a month of snow in just a few hours. That could make this month the snowiest November since 2000, when a total of 45.6 inches fell in the city for the entire month, Miller added.

Residents of Williamstown in Oswego County near Lake Ontario saw 24 inches of snow on Thursday evening, according to the weather service.

In neighboring Oneida County, some areas were covered with 14 inches of snow in the past 24 hours as of Thursday night, according to the weather service.

Friday alone could bring more than two feet of snow, which Miller said would be one of Buffalo’s three snowiest days on record.

“Heavy lake-effect snow at Lake Erie with snowfall rates of 2-3″ per hour will continue tonight to result in extremely difficult travel for the Buffalo Metro area east to Batavia, and also in Oswego County near Lake Ontario,” the National Weather Service in Buffalo said Thursday night.

Lake-effect snow occurs when very cold, windy conditions form over a relatively warm lake — meaning the lake can be 40 degrees while the air is zero degrees, Miller explained. The temperature clash creates instability, which can cause the most extreme winter weather.

Due to weather conditions, Sunday’s NFL game in Orchard Park, New York, between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns has been moved to Detroit, the league announced Thursday.

About 6 million people in five Great Lakes states — from Wisconsin to New York — received snow warnings Thursday, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said. Snow produced by the lake effect will persist through Sunday in areas downwind of the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service.

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

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
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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