AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage on the blockbuster snowfall that topped 6 feet in some locations south of Buffalo, New York. Forecasters say bitter cold will be in place on Sunday night ahead of moderating temperatures early in the week. For additional coverage, stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com. And keep an eye on weather news and forecasts by following AccuWeather on:
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On Sunday, several Buffalo area schools announced closures on Monday after the immense snowfall in the area, topping 6 feet in some places. Buffalo Public Schools and Frontier Central School District will be closed on Monday. Hamburg Central School District, Lackawanna City School District and Orchard Park Central School District will be closed on both Monday and Tuesday. Several of these school districts will be closed due to an ongoing travel ban in the area.
Acting in tandem with the massive snow accumulation in New York over the weekend has been colder temperatures, with AccuWeather meteorologist Renee Duff saying the “coldest air yet this season” has dived into the Northeast for the end of the weekend. “High temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s F Sunday afternoon, with gusty winds keeping AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures in the teens and 20s,” Duff said. “Sunday night will be downright frigid, with lows in the teens and lower 20s.”
As of 9:30 a.m. EST, some New York locations in the vicinity of a Lake Ontario snow band are feeling the cold. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature in Syracuse was down to 18 F, with wind gusts of 22 mph. The RealFeel® in Rochester was 14, with wind gusts of 23 mph in the area. Rome took the brunt of the cold, as the RealFeel® dipped down to 8, thanks in part to wind gusts up to 30 mph. Duff also noted that milder air is on the way during the first half of the week, a fortunate sign for residents tired of middle of winter type conditions.
AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures in New York were down to single-digits in some cases Sunday morning, a preview of the cold to come for the remainder of the day.
After being closed for several days throughout the colossal lake-effect snowstorm, the New York State Thruway reopened Sunday morning in the Buffalo and Watertown areas. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the news, attributing the reopening to help from agencies from across the state, as well as assistance from the New York Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority. Hochul visited the Southtowns in the Buffalo area Saturday, including a visit with Department of Transportation workers who came from Long Island to aid in Buffalo-area cleanup. “We’re going to continue working hand-in-hand with local officials to help with the recovery,” Hochul said.
AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer has been braving the blustery and snow-covered conditions in New York this week, reporting from Amherst Saturday night. In the northeast Buffalo suburb, lake-effect snow had sagged back south on Saturday after being in Canada during the afternoon. Southwesterly winds pushed the snow back into the Buffalo area with a 2-3 inches per hour rate, with a lake-effect snow warning still in place until 1 p.m. Sunday. Timmer experienced 40 mph wind gusts, and snow flakes that were smaller in size, but just as prolific in accumulation.
Wind gusts of 40 mph blew around Amherst, New York, Saturday evening while snow was falling at a 2-3 inches per hour rate.
A blockbuster lake-effect snowfall has moved out of the Buffalo area as of Sunday morning, but extreme accumulations continue due to a heavy band streaming off of Lake Ontario. The snow band was producing snow at a rate of 2-4 inches per hour, and was becoming centered over Oswego County, just north of Syracuse, as of 8:46 a.m. EST. Travel was noted to be “nearly impossible” in the most intense portion of the band. “The worst conditions are expected to set up just north of Syracuse … with places such as Oswego and Rome expected to pick up an additional foot of snow or more into early Monday morning,” AccuWeather meteorologist Renee Duff said. Duff stated that back in western New York, which was pounded with snow between Thursday and Saturday, the biggest concerns going forward are blowing and drifting snow. Another concern is the weight of the feet of snow on the tops of roofs, as well as the extensive cleanup operations ahead.
A band of heavy lake-effect snow continues to stream off of Lake Ontario in New York on Sunday morning, Nov. 20. (AccuWeather)
AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline was on the ground in Orchard Park Saturday, a place that received over 6 feet of snow since the intense storm began on Thursday. Angeline stated that while hundreds of vehicles have been stranded because of the conditions, that number is still less than previous storms in the area. Officials have encouraged residents to remain careful and patient as crews continue to clear snow in Orchard Park and nearby Hamburg, which picked up more than 6 feet of accumulation. Residents took matters into their own hands with freeing themselves from snow in their driveways, including Orchard Park’s Dave Santana, who made sure to have enough gas in his snowblower.
“When the snow started getting very heavy, I just had to keep up with it,” Santana said. “That was the only way, to keep ahead of it. But, it wasn’t that bad. My daughter loved it, she loved playing in the snow. It’s a lot of work, but it’s something we expected at least a week ago … we got ready for it.”
In Orchard Park, which received more than 6 feet of snow since Thursday, residents used whatever they could to free themselves of snow in their driveways.
Erie County’s Department of Public Works has been clearing off a multitude of roads in the Buffalo area, including the area going toward a local animal shelter. In Blasdell, the Ten Lives Club is “committed to providing shelter to abused, stray, and surrendered family pets,” according to the shelter’s website. On Sunday morning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz noted that the DPW was able to get to the Ten Lives Club building and clear access in order for the animals to be taken care of. The shelter deals mostly with cats, taking in the furry creatures that would otherwise be homeless or euthanized.
With the majority of this week's heavy snowfall out of the way in the Buffalo area, and cleaning crews continuing to make a dent in the mess, Erie County lifted its travel ban for most of the county Sunday morning. After extending the ban to the entire city of Buffalo Saturday, the northern half of the city is now under a travel advisory, while the southern half still remains under the ban. Other locations still impacted by the travel ban are Lackawanna, Evans, Hamburg and Orchard Park, where the most extreme snow amounts topping 6 feet have been measured. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz noted that if travel bans remain in those communities on Monday, schools in that area will have to be closed.
The county’s Department of Public Works has reached most area roads in cleaning efforts, working on snow removal in southern parts of the county along the Lake Erie shore Saturday evening.
Over 6 feet of snow has fallen in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg, with overnight drone video capturing the breadth of the snowfall burying local homes, cars and businesses. The drone captured footage before the snow band came back to the western New York area Saturday morning, delivering another round of heavy precipitation. Residents were out overnight with shovels in hand, attempting to make a dent into the mounds of snow that fell into local neighborhoods. After receiving 55 inches of snow into the overnight hours, the city has now taken in 73.7 inches as of Saturday afternoon.
After setting a new daily snowfall record for Nov. 18 on Friday with 16.1 inches of accumulation, Buffalo topped that mark on Saturday, establishing a new daily record for maximum snowfall on Nov. 19 as well with an impressive 21.5 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service office in Buffalo. The old record for the date was the 7.6 inches that fell on Buffalo in 2014 during the heart of the long-duration snowfall event commonly known as ‘Snowvember’ that delivered extreme snowfall totals to western New York.
The New York National Guard was activated on Saturday morning, initially sending 70 guard members to the southtowns to aid crews. Later in the day, that number was doubled to 150 members, according to CBC News. The guards arrived at the Erie County Emergency Operations Center and were sent out to pick up and deliver people needing dialysis. Official disaster declaration papers are expected to be signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to approve funding for storm-related costs.
Weather has impacted New York mightily this week, with the trend potentially continuing into the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. Experts state an incoming weather system could add delays for passengers both in the air and on the ground in major hubs such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta, with heavy rain potentially in store for the New York area hit hard by this week’s snowstorm.
Tuesday will be a major day of disruption in the Pacific Northwest, as a storm is expected to move into the region and bring both rain and mountain snow. Seattle and western Washington will take the brunt of the storm, while around a foot of snow could potentially bury the Washington Cascades and northern Rockies. The day before Thanksgiving looks to be more quiet, outside of the wintry weather and downpours along the Southeast coast.
The snowstorm in western New York is approaching historic proportions and has wreaked havoc on the roads around the region for several days now. For many children in the area who are able to get out and play in the snow safely, the snow surely looks like an incredible winter wonderland. But with so much on the ground, it may be hard to get to the neighborhood sledding hill. Two children in Hamburg, New York, one of the areas blasted with more than 5 feet of snow, were able to make do by sledding over a towering mound of snow that completely covered their family’s SUV.
Feet of snow in Hamburg, New York completely covered SUV's, making the perfect sledding hill (Photo/Amy Hartman).
As temperatures continue to sit below freezing in the Buffalo area, the city has opened up several warming centers for residents unable to shelter in a home with a heater. Those who are without power or need a place to warm up are encouraged to go, with the centers open until 6 p.m. Saturday. Warming centers are open at the Tosh Collins Community Center, the Machnica Community Center and the Lincoln Field House Community Center in Buffalo. The Western New York Coalition for the Homeless is also opening several overnight shelters in the city.
Historical snowfall across the Buffalo area resulted in the NFL moving Sunday's game from Highmark Stadium in Buffalo to Ford Field in Detroit. After finding a venue to move to, concerns for the Bills remained as the team was not at the airport yet. The snow was so severe that it remained uncertain if the team could make it to the airport to get to Detroit. Luckily, the team was successfully able to get to the airport and take a flight to Detroit, which landed safely just after 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. The team will play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday then again play in Detroit on Thursday against the Lions.
After days of snow coated the Buffalo area with several feet of snow, the sun finally shined across the area, but digging out has only just begun and more snow is on the way. The dangerous winter storm has already caused multiple deaths. Hamburg Police Department told AccuWeather's Jillian Angeline that they're still rescuing stranded drivers and taking them to shelters as of Saturday afternoon. Several abandoned vehicles are blocking roadways and making things harder for plows to clear the area.
"We've asked people through social media and news outlets to not drive. They become victims trapped. We encourage everybody to stay home. Like I said, there's a travel ban in Hamburg," Tood Ehret of Hamburg Police Department told Angeline.
Snow mobiles appeared to be one of the only ways to easily travel the area, but Angeline witnessed one get stuck in a snowdrift while turning around. The threat of more lake-effect snow will once again threaten Hamburg on Saturday night as AccuWeather forecasters say another 5 to 10 inches could fall into Sunday.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul held a storm briefing on Saturday afternoon following historic snowfall across western New York. It was said during the briefing that 88 vehicle crashes were reported and 280 people had been rescued as of Saturday. Despite the high numbers, Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz mentioned it was far less than previous storms. During a 2014 winter storm event in the state, thousands of motorists were stranded, according to WBFO. Commercial traffic will reopen on the New York State Thruway, but not all exits will open. Over 390 tickets have been written for drivers violating the travel ban in effect for the area.
Buffalo Bills fans got a glimpse of what Sunday’s NFL game against the Cleveland Browns may have looked like weather-wise at the team’s Orchard Park stadium location. With over 5 feet of snow on the ground in Orchard Park, Highmark Stadium’s blue- and red-colored seating turned to all white, and snow piled high enough to cover part of the field’s goalposts. Due to the perilous conditions in the Buffalo area, the game between the Bills and Browns has been moved to Detroit’s Ford Field. The Detroit Lions’ official Twitter page poked fun at the Bills faithful and their pregame ritual of breaking tables after the Thursday announcement.
A snow plow rolls through Orchard Park, New York, home to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills' game against the Cleveland Browns has been moved to Detroit due to the perilous conditions in Buffalo.
Officials in the city of Buffalo stepped in and extended a travel ban to the entire city Saturday morning, as Buffalo has been hammered with immense snowfall since Thursday. Previously, only the southern portion of Buffalo was under the driving restrictions. Some northern and southern sectors of Erie County, home to Buffalo, are still under a travel advisory. Orchard Park, within Erie County and a southwestern neighbor to Buffalo, has totaled 66 inches (5.5 feet) of snow as of Saturday morning, the second-highest New York snow report behind Natural Bridge (70.5 inches).
Being a Buffalo native, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been through quite a few snow events, which is why she told AccuWeather Prime on Friday that she got a head start on this week’s storm by working with local officials and declaring a state of emergency in Erie County. “The reason we did it in advance of the storm is based on many years of experience … I knew that if we gave out the emergency declaration early, we start bringing in our assets,” Hochul said.
Part of the asset-building was adding up to 400 plows to deal with the crisis both in Buffalo and throughout other impacted New York regions. Hochul noted that keeping people off the roads was key during the storm, and that residents shouldn’t leave the home even when seeing a slight lull in the snowfall. “Shutting down roads preemptively stopped us from having the situation you often see during storms, where there’s jack-knifed trucks that are blocking traffic and people become stranded, you get a real life-threatening situation,” Hochul said. “So we averted all that by being prepared early.”
One of the NFL’s most loyal fanbases has taken love for their team to another level amid the incredible western New York snowstorm. The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to depart from a local airport on Saturday afternoon for their Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns, which was moved to Detroit’s Ford Field. To get the players past the intense snowfall to the airport, local residents have cleared driveways of several Bills roster members, such as offensive tackle Spencer Brown, tight end Quintin Morris and tight end Dawson Knox. “The city of good neighbors … never seen anything like it,” Knox stated on his Instagram page, thanking the fans for helping dig a path out of his home. Getting the Bills players, coaches and staff to the airport has been a “major effort” Saturday, with moving players via snowmobile a possibility.
Despite over 6 feet of snow falling in Orchard Park, New York since Thursday, one Erie County official is thinking positively about the western New York snowstorm. Daniel Neaverth, commissioner of Erie County Emergency Services, told Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Saturday morning that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the county is through the worst of the storm, and is “glad” about the assets the county has in place to respond to the immense snowfall. AccuWeather meteorologist Renee Duff noted that “the hardest-hit areas of western New York are in a bit of a lull” Saturday morning “as the intense lake-effect band has shifted north of Buffalo.” Duff stated that the band will sink southward back to western New York on Saturday evening, bringing between 1-2 more feet of snow to the already incredible total.
Buffalo’s burial by snowfall this week became record-breaking on Saturday. According to the National Weather Service office in Buffalo, the record daily maximum snowfall has been broken, with 16.1 inches falling in the city Saturday. The previous record was 7.6 inches, which was set in 2014 during the historic and deadly ‘Snowvember’ event that dropped close to 7 feet of snow across parts of western New York from Nov. 17-21, 2014.
The intense lake-effect snowstorm across the Great Lakes region has left at least three dead. After it was announced Friday that two people in Erie County in western New York died from cardiac arrest "related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing," a third death was reported as taking place Friday in Hamlet, Indiana. In the town, about 30 miles from Lake Michigan, a snowplow driver was killed when his plow slid off the pavement and rolled over, the Starke County Sheriff's Department stated. The lake-effect snow from Lake Michigan piled up in Michigan, with 2 feet of snow reported in places such as Mount Zion and Central Lake.
After temporarily closing due to the incredible amount of snowfall in the Buffalo area, Buffalo Niagara International Airport reopened its runways Saturday morning. Plow crews were hard at work on Friday preparing for reopening. According to FlightAware, there were 100 flight cancellations at the airport over the past 24 hours, including 39 departing flights on Saturday, the highest cancellation number of departing flights in the United States. The airport is scheduled to take the Buffalo Bills NFL squad to Detroit Saturday, in advance of the team's game against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field.
The intense snowstorm in western New York has left at least two people dead, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced Friday. In Erie County, two residents have died from cardiac arrest “related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing.” The county is currently under a state of emergency, and a travel ban is in effect for the majority of the county. Poloncarz advised residents to wait, noting "the snow is very heavy, very wet." Erie County Emergency Services stressed “smart” shoveling to residents Saturday morning, stating that shoveling heavy and wet snow can cause back injuries as well as heart attacks. "
Two New York locations have officially passed 6 feet of snow since the snowstorm in the state began Thursday, including a Buffalo suburb. In Orchard Park, New York, the latest snow report shows that 77 inches (6.41 feet) have fallen in the city.
By comparison, the snowfall piled up thus far nearly eclipses the height of 6-foot-5 Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. About 250 miles north of Orchard Park in Natural Bridge, snowfall since Thursday is now measured as 72.3 inches (6.02 feet). Other top snowfall reports were found in Blasdell (65 inches) and Hamburg (61 inches), with both locations receiving over 5 feet of snow. And the snow will keep piling up: About 1 to 2 feet of additional snow is expected Saturday night, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
Robert Skimin uses an ATV to dig out after an intense lake-effect snowstorm impacted the area on Nov. 18, 2022 in Hamburg, New York. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
Travel issues have been rampant in the Buffalo area despite numerous travel advisories and road closures since the snowstorm started Thursday. In nearby Hamburg, where slightly more than 5 feet of snow have been confirmed thus far by AccuWeather forecasters, tractor-trailers were parked on a local road, unable to move in the conditions. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz stated that large trucks are rarely on the secondary road, but attempted to maneuver around a closure of the New York State Thruway and became stuck. The road-turned-parking lot is the reason why county officials cannot reach secondary roads and neighborhoods in the Hamburg area, Poloncarz noted.
AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer shared a video Saturday from outside the hotel he is staying at in Hamburg, showing numerous motorists stuck in the parking lot:
Buffalo, New York, is no stranger to lake-effect snow, and this current storm could give previous storms a run for their money. AccuWeather recently took a look back at some of the most historic lake-effect snowstorms in New York’s history.
• The historic and deadly ‘Snowvember’ event dropped nearly 7 feet of snow across parts of western New York from Nov. 17, 2014 to Nov. 21. In Cowlesville, which is about 20 miles east of Buffalo, 88 inches of snow was measured. This was the highest snowfall amount produced by the storm.
• An early December lake-effect snowstorm brought over 30 inches of snow to the Buffalo area in 2010 and the National Weather Service (NWS) said it was “one of the most intense and disruptive storms on record for the Buffalo area.”
• In 2001, after a record-warm and nearly snowless November and December, a lake-effect storm impacted the Buffalo area just in time for the holidays. The storm went down in history as the biggest storm on record for Buffalo’s airport, as a storm total of 81.6 inches of snow was measured.
• From Nov. 20-23, 2000, more than 2 feet of snow buried Buffalo. The metro area shut down as the storm delivered the city’s largest single-day snowfall for November on Nov. 20 when 24.9 inches fell, according to the NWS.
The University at Buffalo postponed the Mid-American Conference football game scheduled for Saturday due to the current weather conditions in the western New York area, according to the news release from Friday. The game between the Buffalo Bulls and the University of Akron might be able to happen on Sunday, “should weather and travel conditions permit.”
The university announced that several other scheduled sporting events have been postponed and will not be rescheduled. This includes the school’s women’s basketball matchup against Princeton. For further updates, university officials asked fans to check the school’s website and social media channels.
Heavy snowfall and traffic accidents on slippery roads can often cause power outages, complicating staying warm in cold weather. Here are a few tips to follow:
• Keep all doors to the outside closed, and use towels to block drafts from windows and door cracks
• Insulate windows with black blankets or place a blanket on the floor where the sun is directly shining
• Run a bathtub of hot water
• Turn faucets to a trickle to prevent pipes from freezing
• Don’t rely on gas stoves, charcoal grills or other open-flame heat sources as carbon monoxide gas may build up in your home. You should also be aware of fuel fumes while trying to make a hot meal.
• Place any generators outside, away from doors, windows and vents
• Limit non-emergency phone calls
Snowfall reports over 5 feet have trickled in from the hardest-hit areas of New York state as of early Saturday morning. The highest total so far is a whopping 66 inches of snow from Orchard Park, which is southeast of Buffalo, as of early Friday evening. Just to the northwest, Blasdell has reported 65 inches of snow so far. To the south of Blasdell, a building collapsed and numerous car rescues have occurred in Hamburg, where 61 inches of snow has fallen with the ongoing storm. Additional significant snowfall is still possible through Sunday, with winter storm watches set to expire as late as Sunday night.
Feet of lake-effect snow are forecast to pile up in parts of New York by the end of the weekend, but how is this different from a typical snowstorm? Widespread snow is often caused by a large-scale storm system like a nor’easter. Winter storms revolve around a central area of low pressure and can produce not just snow, but also sleet, freezing rain and thunderstorms. These far-reaching storms can spread accumulating snow over several states at the same time and can track across the entire country.
Lake-effect snow does not need a large-scale low-pressure system to develop. All it takes is for bitterly cold air to interact with comparatively warm water. When the wind direction aligns with the shape of the Great Lakes, it can generate smaller-scale snow events that can unload feet of powder over a small area. The localized nature of lake-effect snow means that a few miles could be the difference between accumulations of a few inches and a few feet.
Lake-effect snow is not just limited to the Great Lakes. Any large body of water can generate snow when the weather conditions are right, including the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Chesapeake Bay.
Shoveling heavy, wet snow can lead to serious injuries and cardiac events, such as heart attacks. In fact, about 28,000 people are sent to the emergency room each year for shoveling-related injuries. Cardiac patients should avoid strenuous wintertime activity altogether, according to experts from the American Heart Association. The National Weather Service office in Buffalo, New York, shared the following tips on Twitter to help people stay safe while shoveling snow, including not to “push” it:
•Dress warmly. It is essential to cover extremities such as your head, fingers and toes.
•Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The NWS also pointed out that it is best to avoid a big meal before shoveling.
•Move small amounts of snow at one time.
•Take breaks often. Anytime you feel tired, take a pause.
And, of course, always lift with your legs and not your back.
Multiple people were rescued from their cars on Friday in Hamburg, New York, as several feet of snow fell across the region. The Hamburg New York Police told AccuWeather's Jillian Angeline they were actively rescuing people from their cars along with New York State Fire as of 7 p.m. local time. The amount of cars stranded on Hamburg roads is large, police captain Todd Ehret told Angeline. Hamburg Police continue to urge people to stay off roads into Saturday in order to ensure everyone stays safe during the dangerous conditions.
Despite portions of the Buffalo area being impacted by several feet of snow, power outages remained low during the day on Friday across the region. About 1,700 customers were without power in Erie County as of Friday evening, with the entire state of New York totaling about 1,900 outages. Of the six counties that border Erie, only Wyoming County reported outages with just one. Power outages were scattered this morning but have since lowered to under 2,000 according to PowerOutage.US.
Snowfall reports across the Buffalo area have exceed 4 feet in some locations as of Friday evening. Orchard Park, located to the southeast of Buffalo, picked up 59 inches of snow --nearly 5 feet -- as of 6:30 p.m. local time. To the west of Orchard Park, a snowfall report in Hamburg totaled 51 inches -- over 4 feet -- as of 5:30 p.m. While the numbers are already impressive, the storm is far from over as snow continued to pick up on Friday evening. Orchard Park remains under a Lake Effect Snow Warning until 1 a.m. Saturday.
By definition, snow squalls are intense yet brief periods of moderate to heavy snowfall accompanied by strong, gusty surface winds. Not part of a large-scale storm, snow squalls move in and out fairly quickly and typically last less than an hour. These fast-hitting, intense blasts of snow and powerful winds can pose a serious risk for motorists. In the matter of seconds, a blustery snow squall can create whiteout conditions and reduce visibility to less than a quarter of a mile. Each year, squalls engulf localized areas, triggering numerous and often deadly chain-reaction pileups on ice-laden highways across the country. According to weather experts, its often hard to prepare for the sudden onset of a snow squall while you’re driving, but understanding what to do if you are caught in one is crucial.
1.) Try and exit the highway and pull onto a secondary road
2.) If you cannot exit the highway, reduce your speed and make sure your headlights are on
3.) Try and pull way off the highway or into a rest area and wait out the squall
4.) Pulling off to the shoulder of the highway is not advised because oncoming traffic may not realize that you vehicle has stopped until its too late
5.) Allow plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you
6.) Do not slam on the breaks. You could lose control of the your car on the slick roadways
7.) Sign up for instant weather alerts that will warn of impending hazardous weather ahead. Due to the fast-hitting nature of squalls, special weather warnings that pop up on smartphones are critically important. That way if you are on the highway, you can possibly avoid dangerous driving conditions.
Snow squalls are brief, yet intense bursts of snow and wind that are extremely dangerous to drivers.
Motorists were trapped on roadways in Lackawanna and Hamburg, New York, as lines of vehicles remained stuck in the ever-deepening snowfall that has blanketed a large swath of the western part of the state. Stranded driver Alex Paul told Storm Chaser Brandon Clement that his car got stuck trying to turn down his road. “It’s terrible. You’re trying to driving, sliding all around. It’s awful,” he said.
Lake-effect snow caused havoc for locals trying to travel through the treacherous conditions in areas such as Hamburg and Lackawanna, New York, as several stranded motorists respond to the weather.
Motorist Adam Seoidi found a little trace of humor in the situation, managing a few laughs while standing outside in the frigid temperatures near his stuck vehicle. “It’s crazy out here!” he said. Those who had shovels were able to dig themselves out while others had to wait patiently for snowplows for assistance or tried pushing their cars free as other drivers came to their aid.
Michelle Kucalski digs out her car after an intense lake-effect snowstorm impacted the area on Nov. 18, 2022 in Hamburg, New York. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
AccuWeather meteorologists are warning that the weight of the heavy lake-effect snow could become too much for some structures to handle. According to AccuWeather’s calculations, 4 feet of snow accumulation on a residential roof could weigh as much as 34,000 pounds. Accumulations of this magnitude have already been reported near Orchard Park, New York, located about 10 miles southeast of Buffalo. For comparison, a typical school bus weighs around 20,000 pounds. AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said that building standards in this part of New York are different than in other areas of the country, specifically so that structures in New York can withstand heavy snow. However, some structures could still be threatened by the snow load due to the extreme nature of the ongoing event.
“Trucks stuck all over the place,” Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer said in a video update from the side of the New York State Thruway in Hamburg, New York. “Near whiteout conditions as the core of the band is starting to migrate back in again.” Timmer said the Hamburg area is “likely pushing 4 feet” of snow and the snow drifts are making conditions worse on the roads. Panning the camera to show the thruway, not a single car could be seen driving down it. “It basically looks like a river of white as far as the eye can see,” Timmer said about the thruway.
Lake-effect snow, thundersnow and now – waterspouts? That’s exactly what happened Friday morning as heavy snow bands, part of a larger severe snowstorm, moved through the Buffalo region. Meteorologist Simon Brewer captured a photo of a waterspout he spotted spinning fast over Lake Erie around 8:30 a.m., about 1 mile west-southwest of Downtown Buffalo. Brewer shot the roughly five-minute cyclone from the Erie Basin Marina. Waterspouts are basically tornadoes that form over water. Shifting weather patterns over the Great Lakes can often lead to waterspouts, especially during the winter months.
Accumulations have reached the 4-foot mark and continue to rise as a band of intense lake-effect snow remains focused on a zone a few miles south of Buffalo, New York. A trained spotter near the shores of Lake Erie near Blasdell measured 48 inches of snow around 2 p.m. EST, the highest snowfall reports to date. The report noted that 6 inches accumulated between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. EST. Around the same time, a person in Orchard Park, home to the Buffalo Bills, measured 47.5 inches of snow.
Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer was “waist deep” in snow in Hamburg, New York, on Friday morning. “Three, four, five inch per hour snowfall rates continue right in the core of this dominate lake-effect snow band that is coming off Lake Erie,” Timmer said in a video update. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), 37 inches of snow has fallen in Hamburg. “So far this morning, cars are absolutely getting buried out here across Hamburg,” Timmer said. “I’ve have pivoted to on-foot-coverage because that’s the only option out here.” The snow is expected to pile up throughout the weekend, potentially writing a new page in weather history books.
Due to the weather impacting the Buffalo region, the NFL announced Friday morning that the Buffalo Bills have canceled practice on Friday. “Due to travel difficulties, the Bills won’t have players make their way to the facility for Friday’s practice,” the NFL wrote in a statement. Instead, players and coaches will meet virtually on Friday. This comes after the NFL announced on Thursday that Sunday’s game between the Bills and the Cleveland Browns, which was scheduled to be played in Buffalo, would be played at Detroit’s Ford Field. The Bills plan to travel to Detroit on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s game. The team plans to travel back to Buffalo after Sunday’s game before returning to Detroit for a game on Thanksgiving Day.
On Friday afternoon, the team shared photos of the snow blanketing the inside of Highmark Stadium, which is located just outside of Buffalo in Orchard Park. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), 36 inches of snow has fallen at Highmark Stadium.
Snow amounts continued to rapidly increase around lunchtime on Friday, with 37 inches reported in the northern part of Hamburg, New York. About 3 feet fell at Orchard Park, while 31.9 inches was recorded in Blasdell. At the Buffalo airport, located south of downtown, an employee recorded around 20 inches of snow during the storm. The snow isn't limited to New York, however. Elsewhere around the Great Lakes, close to 2 feet of lake-effect snow was recorded in Ironwood and East Jordan, Michigan.
A person near Buffalo, New York, captured a photo on Friday morning showing how a few hundred feet can make a big difference during a lake-effect snow event. Half of the picture showed an area experiencing dry and partly sunny conditions, while a wall of snow obscured the other half. In the areas where it is snowing, snowfall rates could reach 3 to 5 inches per hour, enough to overwhelm crews trying to keep roads passable. The photo also demonstrates how a minor shift in the wind direction can have a significant impact on snowfall accumulations.
A person near Buffalo, New York, captured an image showing a "wall of snow" that separated dry, partly sunny conditions and a total whiteout due to an intense band of lake-effect snow. (Twitter/ @adamp26)
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) suspended all bus services on Friday, with the exception of paratransit services, in Erie County due to the inclement weather. Metro rail services will continue to operate. Buffalo Niagara International Airport will remain open on Friday, however, most flights in and out of Buffalo have been canceled. The airport recommends that people with scheduled flights should keep a close eye on the status of their flight as well as the airport’s website for updates. In the city of Lackawanna, which is about 5 miles south of Buffalo, a travel ban is in effect. Eric County Executive Mark Poloancarz wrote on Twitter that high lifts and other equipment are being brought into the city of Lackawanna for snow removal. Poloancarz notes that this will make roads passable for emergency travel, but the travel ban will remain in effect.
Lake-effect snow has been piling up throughout the morning in western New York, but the heaviest reported totals so far have not come from Buffalo. That could soon change, AccuWeather meteorologists say. “Some areas have already picked up close to 2 feet in the last 24 hours just south of Buffalo proper,” AccuWeather meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo said. “AccuWeather meteorologists are monitoring a band of heavy snow and say there are signs that the heavy snow is going to start shifting north into Buffalo late this morning into the afternoon. Within this heavy band of snow, snowfall rates may exceed 2-4 inches per hour, and driving in those conditions will be downright impossible.”
Incredible drone video emerged early Friday showing a "wall of snow" moving through downtown Buffalo, New York. The video also showed multiple lightning strikes, as a rare phenomenon known as thundersnow was reported. Thundersnow is often accompanied by intense rates of snowfall, sometimes up to several inches per hour, that lead to dangerously low visibility. "This may be the first drone thundersnow video we've ever seen," AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell said.
Drone footage captured over Buffalo, New York, shows lightning flickering in the night sky on Nov. 18 as heavy lake-effect snow swept through the city.
Several feet of snow have piled up in a matter of hours as an intense band of lake-effect snow remains nearly stationary over western New York. Hamburg, located 12 miles south of Buffalo, has picked up 33.9 inches of snow, with plenty more on the way. The person who measured the snow in Hamburg added that 21.5 inches fell between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. EST Friday. This six-hour snowfall accumulation is more than the 17.1 inches that fell in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the past six years. It is also more than three times the amount of snow that has accumulated in Dallas since the start of 2016, with the city’s six-year snowfall total coming in at 7 inches.
For residents of the New York area wanting the most accurate and timely snow forecasts, the WinterCast page on the AccuWeather website and app is a one-stop shop full of information, especially for areas that are in the bulls-eye of the storm such as Buffalo. The page includes a snow and ice outlook for any city in the AccuWeather search bar, allowing residents to see a short-term forecast, along with the upcoming snow and ice forecast several days ahead. The WinterCast page also has information on snowfall accumulation, a radar of snowfall over the past 24 hours, as well as temperature and wind data.
The latest snowfall outlook for Buffalo, New York, on AccuWeather's WinterCast page.
Storm Chaser Brandon Clement was out in the Buffalo area Thursday night as snow fell fast and furiously. Clement captured footage of residents with snowblowers working ahead to try to keep up with the prolific pace of the snow, while others needed shovels to dig out cars stuck in the middle of roads. In one neighborhood, cars were already completely buried as they sat idle in front of homes. On nearby highways, several tractor-trailers were no match for the heavy snow that had fallen. The snow that has fallen so far is only just the beginning in the region, as snow is expected to continue piling up into the weekend. Watch Clement’s video below.
Vehicles were seen stuck as heavy snow fell on Buffalo, New York, burying roads under several inches of snow on Nov. 18.
Snowfall reports from the past 48 hours have topped the 2-foot mark, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). In Williamstown, New York, which is about 25 miles northeast of Syracuse, 24 inches of snow was measured on Friday morning. In Hamburg, New York, which is about 12 miles south of Buffalo, 22.5 inches of snow was measured at one weather station Friday morning.
Snowfall rates of 5 inches per hour were reported in Hamburg. According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski, the weather station in Hamburg recorded 2.5 inches in 30 minutes on Friday morning. In Orchard Park, which is where the Buffalo Bills football stadium is located, 18.5 inches of snow was measured Friday morning. At the weather station located at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, 12.5 inches of snow was observed.
Car stuck in the snow in Buffalo, New York. (Storm chaser Brandon Clement)
The Great Lakes region isn’t the only area that will see lake-effect snow this week. A large body of water is an essential ingredient for the winter phenomenon, meaning that lake-effect snow can occur in areas of the U.S. other than the Great Lakes. This was the case for areas near Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota on Thursday.
Radar imagery caught bands of lake-effect snow traveling off of the lake Thursday morning, the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature dipping below zero in cities near the lake ahead of an Arctic blast that will send temperatures across the central U.S. plunging to levels more typical of the middle of winter. “Although it’s not a common occurrence here in North Dakota, lake effect snow is possible tonight and through much of Thursday!” the National Weather Service office in Bismarck said in a tweet. “This is caused by cold air, northwest winds, and an open and relatively warm Lake Sakakawea.”
Extremely heavy lake-effect snow continues to fall in Buffalo's southern suburbs Friday morning, with whiteout conditions and snowfall rates exceeding 3 inches per hour in spots such as West Seneca, East Aurora and Dunkirk, New York. This snow band will remain over the same general region, though could wobble northward into downtown Buffalo later in the day, AccuWeather forecasters caution. The National Weather Service heavily cautioned against travel within this band of snow, stating that travel would be impossible as heavy snow fell.
Radar indicating a swath of extremely heavy snow in western New York Friday morning.
In a separate hazard, forecasters warn that conditions will rapidly shift as this swath of snow moves northward. While spots north of Buffalo have missed much of the snow so far, visibilities can drop to near 0 in just a few minutes as snow moves in.
Snow has gotten off to an intense, quick start in western New York as a localized and intense stream of lake-effect moisture slides into the region. As is often the case with lake-effect snowstorms, just a few miles can mean the difference between seeing little snowfall or being buried in feet of heavy, wet snow. Already this morning, even though the snow has only been falling for a few hours in some places, many have recorded over a foot of accumulation so far.
While much of the East Coast can see heavy snow during the winter months, little can compare to the intensity of lake-effect snow, and this week's storm is no exception. Already, snowfall rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour have been common from downtown Buffalo southward. Conditions can also change almost instantly, as was the case at the National Weather Service office in the city. In the span of just one hour, the first 3 inches of snow quickly fell, with many more to follow.
With snow expected to remain in the area through the upcoming weekend, these extreme snowfall rates are what will allow for feet of snow to fall downwind of the Great Lakes.
The National Guard was on standby as western New York prepares for potentially record-setting snowfall. Plenty of snow removal equipment will be used to deal with the excessive snowfall forecast to blanket the region, including truck-mounted snowblowers and dump trucks, according to New York State Thruway Authority's Buffalo Division Directory Matthew Latko. "We have experienced drivers. We face the heaviest snowfalls for the amount of traffic and where we're located," Latko told AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline. "I believe our drivers are the best in the country."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown warned those in the city to prepare for what is not a typical "Buffalo snowstorm." "The normal snow plan is going to be out the window with a snow event like this," Brown told Angeline. He encouraged residents to exercise patience and stay home.
Just how warm is the water at Lake Erie? For lake-effect snow to occur, cold air needs to travel above relatively warm surface water, and surface water temperatures at Lake Erie from the end of October to present-day has hovered around the mid-to low 50s, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While this is a far cry from the high-70s the surface water temperatures can reach during the summer, the average for mid-November is closer to the mid-to high 40s. “Surface water temperatures on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are running about 5 degrees above normal for this time of year,” AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor and meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said. Meteorologists typically look for a temperature difference of 23 degrees Fahrenheit or greater between the lake water and the air about 5,000 feet above the surface of the lake for lake-effect snow to develop.
Power outages started to grow across Erie County, New York, as the lake-effect snow-boosted storm commenced Thursday night. By 9:20 p.m. EST, over 2,000 customers in Erie County were without power, according to PowerOutage.US. At the time, the county was under a state of emergency as well as a county-wide travel ban due to the snowstorm. Power outages during a snowstorm may occur due to heavy snow weighing down power lines or motor vehicle accidents crashing into poles.
A state of emergency was issued for western New York’s Erie County along with a travel ban across the county due to the “imminent storm.” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced the driving ban would go into effect at 9 p.m. and would be re-evaluated Friday morning. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a disaster emergency across multiple counties, including Erie, which went into effect Thursday morning. The governor also announced with this disaster emergency that the New York State Thruway would be closed to commercial traffic from Rochester Exit 46 to the Pennsylvania border at Exit 61.
Buffalo and surrounding towns are bracing for a potentially historic lake-effect snow event, but why is the snow focusing on this region of New York? The answer is related to the wind direction aligning with the shape of Lake Erie. Fetch is a meteorological term describing how long wind blows over a body of water; the higher the fetch, the more the atmosphere interacts with the body of water. In the case of lake-effect snow, a higher fetch results in a well-defined, persistent band of heavy snow.
The wind direction is predicted to blow from the southwest across the entire 240-mile length of Lake Erie into the weekend. This puts Buffalo and surrounding towns directly in the path of the lake-effect snow bands that develop. The wind will also cause water to pile up on the northeastern shores of the lake, causing some coastal flooding along the immediate lakeshore.
Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Brown warned Friday afternoon that while city resources are set up to clear the roads, residents should limit unnecessary travel potentially into Saturday. “Visibility will be very difficult and people need to be patient,” Brown told AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline. “This is not going to be your average Buffalo snow. This is going to be a heavy storm.” As many as 100 plow trucks will be on standby throughout the storm, and GPS on the vehicles will allow the public to track the plows and where they’ve been. Brown added that the city has been coordinating with the state, the county and Buffalo public schools, but while they feel prepared, he warned it won’t be a normal snow event for Buffalo. “This is heavier than the average snow that we get, so the public is going to have to understand that,” Brown said. “This is going to be a dangerous storm.”
Perry County School district was closed for four days last week due to flu and other illnesses, but now the impending winter storm could create more school closures. “We knew the beautiful fall weather wouldn’t stick around forever,” the Perry Center School wrote in a social media post detailing the snow day notification procedure on Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon, the district had not posted any closures. Parents are urged to stay up to date on the status of a snow day through the district’s Facebook page and website.
The Buffalo Bills game scheduled for Sunday afternoon has been moved to Ford Field in Detroit due to an incoming historic snowstorm for the Buffalo area. The game was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. “Due to public safety concerns and out of an abundance of caution in light of the ongoing weather emergency in western New York, Sunday’s Cleveland Browns-Buffalo Bills game will be moved to Ford Field in Detroit at 1 p.m. EST,” the Buffalo Bills announced on its website on Thursday afternoon. The Bills will play two straight games in Detroit as they play the Lions on Thanksgiving. "The decision to move the game from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY was done in consultation with the Buffalo Bills and local and state authorities as the region prepares for the storm."
This is the first NFL game to be moved due to snow since a significant lake-effect snow event in 2014 moved a Jets vs Bills game to Ford Field in Detroit. In 2010, two games were moved due to snowfall including a Vikings game that was postponed due to snow collapsing the roof of the Metrodome. The other game to be moved in 2010 was an Eagles game that was postponed to Tuesday after the city of Philadelphia declared a snow emergency.
All eyes are on the snowfall forecast near Buffalo, New York, but the heaviest snow has yet to arrive in the city. As of Thursday afternoon, the heaviest lake-effect snow was falling near Syracuse, New York, and across northern Michigan. The radar showed a batch of rain and snow over the middle of Lake Erie, the feature that is predicted to evolve into a well-defined band of heavy snow that will unload feet of snow in the Buffalo area.
A snapshot of the weather radar on Thursday afternoon showing the lake-effect snow across the Great Lakes. (AccuWeather)
The incoming snow traversing through the Great Lakes and into western New York will create treacherous travel conditions this weekend, heading into one of the busiest travel periods of the year. More than 54 million people are predicted to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, with AccuWeather meteorologists saying that travel-induced headaches could occur throughout the United States. But following this weekend, travel conditions will improve on Tuesday and Wednesday around the Great Lakes.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the biggest problems will pop up in the western United States. AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said that forecasters are expecting travel disruptions from wet, windy and snowy weather in the Northwest and Northern California. The intense weather will also extend east into the northern Rockies. In the east, chilly but dry weather is forecast for Wednesday, while rain and thunderstorms will come for part of the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley.
AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting 36-48 inches of snow in Orchard Park, New York, home to the Buffalo Bills and located about 11 miles southeast of downtown Buffalo. This single snowstorm will deliver 10 times more snow than what falls in Nashville, Tennessee, in a typical year. Since the start of 2012, Nashville has measured 42.9 inches of snow. The impending snow will also be more than three times more snow than the 13.6 inches that accumulates in Washington, D.C., in an average winter
All Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) will be closed on Friday due to the impending snowstorm, the district announced on Wednesday. The district has also canceled all after school and adult education activities on Thursday. Furthermore, all scheduled admission testing and auditions, which were scheduled for Saturday is canceled. Even though there will be no remote instruction on Friday, the district recommended that students bring home their devices Thursday night, in case of an extended closure.
The Buffalo Bills are slated to play the Cleveland Browns at their home stadium near Orchard Park, New York, on Sunday afternoon — the last day of the intense snowfall the area is forecast to receive.As of Wednesday, Orchard Park was under a lake effect snow warning set to expire at 1 a.m. Saturday, though warnings can easily be canceled or prolonged depending on how the weather conditions play out.
Should the game take place as scheduled, there are a few things fans attending the game should keep in mind. Simply arriving at the game is the first challenge the weather will present. Lake effect flurries and squalls remain in the forecast for Sunday, making for difficult and even dangerous travel conditions. Once there, fans in the stands will want to make sure they’re bundled up properly. While Highmark Stadium has radiant heaters, temperatures around the open-air stadium will be around 31 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there will be an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 13 degrees. This won’t be the first time the team has had to deal with the weather phenomenon. Significant lake-effect snow in 2014 forced a Bills home game to be relocated to Ford Field in Detroit, a football stadium protected from snow by a dome.
On Thursday, Mary Kay Cabot, a Browns beat writer for Cleveland.com, reported that the NFL has been in contact with the Browns and Bills about possibly moving the game. A decision on the game’s location will likely have to be made by Friday, Cabot reported. On Thursday morning, Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio talked with local reporters about his dream of making a snow angel on the football field.
The flash of lightning followed by a rumble of thunder is synonymous with summertime storms, but when the conditions are perfect, the phenomenon can occur during bouts of intense snow. The ingredients for thundersnow will converge in the coming days as bands of heavy lake-effect snow develop downwind of the Great Lakes, including around Buffalo, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania.
Generating lightning during a thunderstorm and during a snowstorm are similar meteorological processes, but they come together more frequently during the warmer months. As ice crystals clash together in turbulent updrafts, charged particles are generated. When the charge builds up, the energy is released in a bolt of lightning accompanied by a clap of thunder. “Thunderstorms during the warm season have a much easier time developing strong updrafts because there is more warmth and moisture to feed on and more instability aloft,” AccuWeather meteorologist Jordan Root explained. The updraft in snow showers or snowstorms is not typically as strong as thunderstorms, but the updraft in lake-effect snow bands can be strong enough to create thunder and lightning. The result is a phenomenon called thundersnow, although the thunder may not be heard from far away as the snow naturally muffles sound.
In Oswego, New York, which is 30 miles northwest of Syracuse, there were multiple reports of thundersnow early Thursday morning as a heavy band of snow moved off the lake. Around 3:10 a.m., local time, Kaitlyn Jesmonth, a student at SUNY Oswego, posted a video of the thundersnow on her Twitter account. Throughout the morning on Thursday, additional thundersnow was observed in Oswego. Another video, taken from a live camera stationed in Oswego showed a flash of lightning shortly before 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday.
Lake-effect snow is starting to intensify in northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York, prompting the first snow squall warning of the event to be issued. The National Weather Service (NWS) office in State College, Pennsylvania, issued the warning around 10:30 a.m. EST Thursday, indicating that heavy snow could significantly reduce visibility, leading to a heightened risk for weather-related travel disruptions. The weather bulletin included Bradford, Port Allegany and Westfield, Pennsylvania, as well as portions of Route 6 and Route 219.
In addition to being the first snow squall warning issued during the developing lake-effect snow event, it is the first snow squall warning issued in the Northeast since April 21, 2022. More snow squall warnings are likely to be issued in the coming days across the region.
Lake-effect snow started to accumulate in areas downwind of the Great Lakes late Wednesday and into Thursday morning. Some of the highest totals were located just off Lake Erie, in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). About 19 miles southeast of Buffalo, in Colden, New York, 11.6 inches of snow accumulated in the past 24 hours. In the nearby town of Springville, New York, 11 inches of snow was measured as of Thursday morning.
In Ohio and Pennsylvania, snowfall totals surpassed the 1-foot mark. Located in far northwestern Pennsylvania, a weather station in the town of Springboro recorded 13.8 inches of snow. Another weather station, located in Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania, measured 12.4 inches of snow. Just west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line, in Edgewood, Ohio, 16.1 inches of snow had accumulated in the past 24 hours. As more snow is expected to fall through the end of the week and into the weekend, snowfall totals are expected to rise to the 3- to 6-foot mark.
Ahead of a potentially historic lake-effect snow event in northern and western New York, a state of emergency was issued by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Wednesday, which was slated to go into effect Thursday morning. The state plans on bringing “emergency assets” to crisis areas, and Hochul noted that her office is in “constant contact” with local officials. “New Yorkers: Remain vigilant and avoid unnecessary travel during hazardous conditions,” Hochul tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Hochul also announced Wednesday that the New York State Thruway will be closed to commercial traffic from Rochester Exit 46 to the Pennsylvania border at Exit 61, beginning at 4 p.m. EST Thursday. Shifting truck traffic by the state border “will prevent what has happened” in other instances, Hochul told one local reporter, such as jack-knifed tractor-trailers closing down the road and stranding people.
Nearly 70% of the U.S. population lives in a region that receives more than 5 inches of snow annually, and an overwhelming number of the nation’s roadways traverse those snowy areas, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). This means there is a high likelihood that your simple grocery store run or morning commute could be impacted by winter weather at least once. From snow to sleet to freezing rain or ice, winter weather yields numerous types of precipitation that all pose hazards and difficulties on the roadways.
According to the FHA, more than 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet. But equally dangerous is getting stuck for hours in a snowstorm in your vehicle. Many people don’t envision themselves in this situation, but the unthinkable does happen and being prepared and knowing what to do can help save you and your family’s lives. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to not travel if you can,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said, but if you do have to be out on the roads, being prepared is vital.
•Have an emergency car kit that includes a flashlight, gloves, a battery-powered radio, water, extra food and a blanket.
•If you cannot move, stay where you are and don’t abandon your vehicle. It is a good place to take shelter, especially during a winter storm.
•Notify the authorities with your cell phone and pinpoint your location with GPS either on your cellphone or with navigation services in your car. Make sure to tell the authorities relevant information, like how much gas your car has, how much food and water you have and your location.
•If you don’t have any cellphone service to contact the authorities, then it is important to stay put.
•Turning your car off periodically will help conserve precious gas and battery life and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
•Make sure that your vehicle is visible to others. Using a piece of bright-colored fabric, road flares or a traffic light behind your vehicle will all help to ensure your car is easily spotted on the road or highway.
•Make sure, if you have to leave your home, to have a fully charged cell phone as well as a portable cell phone charger for the car.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is preparing for what could be a historic snowstorm in Buffalo, New York, late this week and into the weekend. Officials say they have 200 plows ready to go, along with other machines known as loaders and graters. Erie County officials also add that their equipment has been mobilized as well. NYSDOT officials are urging people to make necessary preparations before the storm begins and to stay off the road once the snow starts.
“Anytime we can remove traffic from the roads that just allows us to have a quicker and more efficient snow removal response. And in this day and age, many of us are able to telecommute, work from home. And this would be a perfect opportunity to do that,” Susan Surde, the regional public information officer at NYSDOT said to AccuWeather’s Jillian Angeline in an interview. Surde explained when there is less traffic on the highways, expressways and even local roads, it makes the response time after a storm much faster.
Officials are urging people to have enough food and water for the long duration event, and to stay off the roads once the storm starts.
Lake-effect snow is a weather phenomenon generated by cold air moving over comparatively warm water, so it’s common across the Great Lakes region during the late autumn as cold air from Canada moves over the unfrozen lakes. During this process, the combination of heat and moisture from the lake meeting the cold air cause clouds to form, which grow into narrow bands capable of producing heavy snowfall.
Meteorologists look for a temperature difference of 23 degrees Fahrenheit or more between the lake water and the air about 5,000 feet above the surface of the lakes, with a greater temperature difference leading to heavier lake-effect snow. For this reason, the late fall and winter, or when the waters of the Great Lakes are still unfrozen and relatively warm compared to the colder air flowing in, is typically the prime time of the season for lake-effect snow. The winds are the main factor in where the snow falls, and in the cases where the wind direction doesn't shift, snowfall totals can begin to pile up.