New York

New York snow: ‘Visibility will drop to near zero’ in parts of New York state getting hammered with lake-effect snow


Parts of upstate New York will be hit by a snowstorm on Thursday that could close roads and paralyze cities for days.

“This event has the very real potential to produce a debilitating snowfall that could be measured in feet in the Buffalo and Watertown metro areas,” Buffalo-based National Weather Service said.

Total snowfall with lake effect could be measured in feet in parts of western New York.

The violent lake-effect snowstorm began on Wednesday and is expected to keep the roads treacherous at least until the end of the week.

“Visibility will drop to near zero at times and roads will be covered with snow, making travel dangerous to almost impossible,” the National Weather Service said.

About 6 million people in five Great Lakes states — from Wisconsin to Ohio to New York — were under snow warnings Thursday, CNN weather forecaster Dave Hennen said.

The storm had already dumped 17 inches of snow at Monroe Center in northeast Ohio by morning. Erie, Pennsylvania was coated at 11.5 inches and Springboro, about 35 miles southwest of Erie, at nearly 14 inches.

And the worst is yet to come.

The heaviest snow is expected to start Thursday evening and continue through Friday, with further intense snowfall over the weekend, the weather service said.

“This will be a very prolonged and large lake-effect snow event east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock told CNN.

Forecasters said at least 42 inches of snow will accumulate in Buffalo between Thursday night and Sunday morning.

Downwind areas of Lakes Erie and Ontario could be hit by lightning and thunder in addition to snowfall.

In addition to Buffalo, several feet of snow are forecast for the Watertown area of ​​New York as well as northwestern Pennsylvania, the National Weather Service said.

Snow could fall at a rate of 3 inches per hour in some places, with snow piled up to 4 feet in some areas.

Parts of Indiana and Northeast Ohio have already picked up more than a foot of snow, Hennen said.

These states are being inundated with lake-effect snow — which happens when very cold, windy conditions form over a not-so-cold lake.

For example, a lake can be around 40 degrees, while the air temperature can be well below freezing.

“This temperature difference creates some instability, and the water is a source of moisture,” said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller. “When it comes over land, it deposits water vapor as snow.”

Intense lake effect snow can be deadly. In November 2014, a similar storm in western New York caused at least 13 deaths, “hundreds of large roof collapses and structural damage,” the National Weather Service said.

Commercial traffic will be banned from 4 p.m. Thursday on about 130 miles of the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) in the Rochester and Buffalo area to the Pennsylvania border, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said.

Residents should take precautions – and take care of each other, the state rescue service demanded.

“Don’t underestimate this storm,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

“We should screen all of our neighbors, particularly vulnerable neighbors, to help them prepare for the winter weather forecast.”

Snow fell in Erie, Pennsylvania on Wednesday as the first sea-effect storm this season hit the area.

The governor of New York plans to declare a state of emergency Thursday, she said.

“My team and I are deploying emergency response ahead of the storm, staying in constant touch with local officials and using laser focus on forecasting,” Hochul said in a release.

“New Yorkers should remain vigilant in the face of the storm and avoid unnecessary travel in these perilous conditions.”

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