A dangerous lake-effect snowstorm paralyzed parts of western and northern New York on Friday, with nearly 0.61 meters of snow already on the ground in some places by mid-morning and possibly much more along the way.
The severity of the storm varied widely due to the peculiarities of lake-effect storms, which are caused by freezing winds picking up moisture from warmer lakes and dumping snow in narrow bands.
Residents in parts of Buffalo woke up to heavy snow, punctuated by the occasional clap of thunder, while a few miles north only a few centimeters had fallen overnight and there were patches of sky blue.
The worst snowfall so far occurred south of the city. The National Weather Service reported more than 2 feet of snow in many places along the eastern end of Lake Erie, with heavier bands of precipitation bringing nearly 34 inches (86 cm) to Hamburg, New York.
Schools have been closed. Amtrak stations in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Depew closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday. Many flights to and from Buffalo Niagara International Airport have been canceled.
Even before the snow started to fall, the NFL announced that it would move the Buffalo Bills’ home game against the Browns from Cleveland to Detroit. Orchard Park, where the teams play, had seen 2ft (61cm) fall by mid-morning Friday.
A car carrying a TV news crew reporting on the storm got stuck early Friday and had to be pushed out of the snow by onlookers, WGRZ reporter Alexandra Rios said on Twitter.
“Our car got stuck after our 4.30am live shot,” Rios
. “Then at one point about 6 people got together to help us.” She said they told her the people of Buffalo “always come together when someone is in need.”
Our car got stuck after our 4:30a live shot. Then, at one point about 6 people gathered together to help us out. 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.” @WGRZ @Kmatter66 pic.twitter.com/bAtkdzeJxJ— Alexandra Rios (@alexandrariostv) November 18, 2022
New York Governor 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. Hochul’s state of emergency covers 11 counties, with commercial truck traffic prohibited on a stretch of Interstate 90.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a driving ban starting Thursday night, though it was downgraded to a notice for the city of Buffalo on Friday. The heaviest snowfall was expected to last through Friday evening, with more falling from Saturday to Sunday.
The weather service also warned of snowfall accumulations of 2 feet (0.6 meters) or more in northern New York on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and parts of northern Michigan through Sunday. Parts of Pennsylvania were also seeing lake-effect snow accumulations.
Buffalo has experienced dramatic lake-effect snowstorms, only slightly worse than the one that hit in November 2014. This epic storm dumped seven feet of snow on some communities over three days, collapsing roofs and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles at the edge of a lake. section of the New York State Thruway.
—Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press
climate change snowstorm
Heavy snow falls Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 in Erie, Pa. as the first lake effect storm hits the Erie region. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
. A dangerous storm snow effect lake covers Buffalo in west York