A lake-effect snowstorm lead to school closures and transportation cancellations throughout parts of western and northern New York. By midmorning Friday, more than two feet of snow had fallen in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie. Two feet of snow had also accumulated in Orchard Park, home of the Buffalo Bills NFL team, by midmorning.
“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,” the Bills said in a Thursday news release. “The decision to move the game from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York was done in consultation with the Buffalo Bills and local and state authorities as the region prepares for the storm.”
As for transportation, dozens of Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and will stay closed Friday. Dozens of flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled Friday. Even for those in cars, the National Weather Service warned early Friday morning of “near zero visibility” and “nearly impossible travel.”
“Our car got stuck after our 4:30 a.m. live shot. Then, at one point about six people gathered together to help us out,” Buffalo news reporter Alexandra Rios tweeted Friday morning. “I asked why. They say, ‘It’s a Buffalo thing, we may not always get along year round, but we always come together when someone is in need.’”
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) declared a state of emergency Thursday for parts of western New York due to the snowstorm, including communities along the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Hochul’s state of emergency covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic banned from a stretch of Interstate 90.
The snowstorm’s severity was expected to vary widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms. The most intense snowfall was expected to last through Friday evening, with more falling on Saturday into Sunday.
“Additional accumulations of 2-3 feet of snow are expected downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario while 8-12″ are likely downwind of the other 3 lakes by Sunday morning,” the National Weather Service said Friday. “Historic snowfall exceeding 4 feet is likely around Buffalo.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.