“Thunder snow” hits Buffalo area at start of monster storm


Buffalo, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York ahead of a dangerous storm that had the potential to dump several feet of snow on some communities on the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

The worst 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.

Snows began falling in Buffalo Thursday evening, and heavy snow punctuated by thunder and lightning — so-called “thunder snow” — moved in late Thursday and early Friday, quickly covering the ground and roads, as noted by the National Weather Service’s Buffalo office:

CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB-TV said snow was already falling late Thursday night at the rate of 3 inches per hour with up to 5 inches per hour possible.

The most intense snowfall was expected to last through Friday evening, with more falling on Saturday into Sunday.

Chris Luft reported on Storyful about conditions late Thursday:

Hochul’s state of emergency covers 11 counties and included a ban on commercial truck traffic from a stretch of Interstate 90. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a driving ban, as well.  

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.





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