A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm has paralyzed parts of western and northern New York state, with more than 1ft of snow already on the ground on Friday morning in places and a driving ban keeping people off the roads in the Buffalo area.
The worst snowfall was expected in Buffalo, where the National Weather Service said up to 4ft might fall in some spots through Sunday, with periods of near-zero visibility.
Other areas could get a foot 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 on Friday exceeded 1ft of snow along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with totals as high as 20 inches in Hamburg, New York, about 12 miles from Buffalo.
New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, declared a state of emergency late on Thursday for parts of western New York, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, two of the Great Lakes.
Hochul’s state of emergency covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic banned from a stretch of Interstate 90.
Erie county executive Mark Poloncarz issued a driving ban beginning on Thursday night, shortly after heavy snow punctuated by thunder and lightning 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.
Administrators canceled Friday classes for students in Buffalo and throughout the county. Amtrak railway stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed on Thursday and will stay closed on Friday, the Buffalo News reported, while numerous flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.
Also ahead of the storm, the National Football League announced it would relocate the Buffalo Bills’ home game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit on Sunday.
The switch in sites means the Bills will play back-to-back games in Detroit, as they are scheduled to play the Lions on Thanksgiving next Thursday.