Heavy snowfall is pounding parts of western New York state as a potentially historic storm that’s already halted traffic on major roadways threatens to topple trees, damage property and knock out power as temperatures plunge.
Snowfall totals have now reached 4 feet in at least three locations. Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills had been scheduled to play their now-relocated NFL game Sunday, had snowfall totals of up to 54 inches by Friday afternoon.
Blasdell, about 8 miles south of Buffalo, has received 48 inches of snow, including six inches in the hour between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Elma, just southeast of Buffalo also has see 48 inches since the storm rolled in.
Two Erie County residents have died after suffering cardiac events related to shoveling or blowing snow, County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced.
“We send our deepest sympathies and remind all that this snow is very heavy and dangerous,” Poloncarz tweeted.
“Heavy lake effect snow bands are expected to continue difficult to impossible travel, especially, downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario through this weekend. Some locations may be paralyzed by several feet of snow.,” the National Weather Service said Thursday.
About 6 million people in five Great Lakes states – from Michigan to New York – are under snow alerts Friday, CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink said. Snow produced through lake-effect will continue through Sunday in areas downwind of the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service.
Buffalo’s highest three-day snowfall is 56.1 inches, which occurred in December 2001, CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller said. Indeed, given the rate of snowfall, Buffalo may see a month’s worth of snow in only a few hours. That could make this month the snowiest November since 2000, when 45.6 inches in total fell in the city during the entire month, Miller added.
The heaviest bands of snow Friday were off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
As the region braces for more:
• Commercial traffic has been banned on some roads, though some bans were replaced by travel advisories Friday morning.
• Flights have been canceled at the Buffalo airport, which already has almost 13 inches of snow.
• The NFL earlier this week moved the Bills’ game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit. The team hopes to travel from Buffalo on Saturday.
• Parts of Oswego County near Lake Ontario received 2 feet of snow by Thursday evening.
• Hamburg, around 15 miles south of Buffalo, had almost 34 inches by 8 a.m.
• Buffalo public schools are closed Friday. So are Erie County services.
• Places east of Lakes Erie and Ontario could get 3 inches or more of snow per hour, with occasional lightning and gusty winds.
“I want to be very clear: This is not your normal snowfall in the city of Buffalo or in the region,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Friday. “This is a snowstorm with potentially deadly consequences if people do not do the right thing.”
Imploring residents to take caution this weekend, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul described the storm as a “major, major” snowfall event that could be as life-threatening as the November 2014 snowstorm that claimed the lives of 20 people in the Buffalo region.