Buffalo, N.Y. — Aparalyzed parts of western and northern New York, with more than a foot of snow already on the ground Friday morning in places and a driving ban keeping people off the roads in the Buffalo area.
Travel advisory in effect for City of Buffalo, towns of Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Holland, North Collins & Sardinia
The heaviest snowfall was expected in Buffalo, where the National Weather Service said up to 4 feet might fall in some spots through Sunday, with periods of near-zero visibility. Other areas could get a foot or less of the lake-effect snow, which is caused by frigid air picking up copious amounts of moisture from the warmer lakes.
Reports to the weather service early Friday exceeded a foot of snow along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with totals as high as 20 inches in Hamburg, N.Y., about 12 miles from Buffalo.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic banned from a stretch 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” — moved into Buffalo, quickly covering the ground and roads. The most intense snowfall was expected to last through Friday evening, with more falling on Saturday into Sunday.
The National Weather Service’s Buffalo office offered an update:
There’s an intense band of lake effect snow just south of downtown Buffalo across the Southtowns. We’ve gotten multiple reports of thunder snow within this band in the past hour. pic.twitter.com/fO6dxMfVei
— NWS Buffalo (@NWSBUFFALO) November 18, 2022
CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB-TV said snow was already falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour late Thursday night with up to 5 inches per hour possible.
Chris Luft reported on Storyful about conditions late Thursday:
— Chris Luft (@ChrisLuft25) November 18, 2022
Administrators canceled Friday classes for students in Buffalo and throughout the county. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and will stay closed Friday, The Buffalo News reported, while numerous flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.
“I want western New Yorkers to take this seriously,” Hochul said.
Also ahead of the storm, the NFL announced it would relocate the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday home game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit. The switch in sites means the Bills will play back-to-back games in Detroit, since they’re scheduled to play 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 in parts of northern Michigan through Sunday. Parts of Pennsylvania also were seeing accumulations of lake-effect snow.