New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday declared a state of emergency for 11 counties as a winter storm is forecast to slam the Buffalo area and other upstate counties with intense “lake effect” snow through Sunday.
The most significant snowfall is expected Thursday and Friday with accumulations of up to four feet of snow possible in the Buffalo area and up to two feet or more of snow possible in the Watertown area, with snowfall rates of three or more inches per hour.
The state of emergency applies to the following counties, as well as contiguous counties: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wyoming.
Hazardous travel conditions and local power outages as a result of the storm are likely due to the combination of snow and wind in the forecast. Lightning and thunder may also occur in the heavier, more intense bands.
Hochul urged New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel Thursday evening through Friday, particularly in the Buffalo and Watertown areas.
Hochul said the state has been preparing around the clock for this potentially life-threatening weather event, bringing in additional safety personnel and equipment, closing down the New York State Thruway, and activating emergency operation centers.
Lake Effect Snow Warning and Winter Storm Watches are in effect through Sunday evening for several counties in the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and North Country regions. The National Weather Service forecast anticipates several feet of snow for multiple locations over the duration of this storm.
According to the National Weather Service, areas within the lake effect snow bands will experience ear zero visibility at times and covered roadways will make travel extremely hazardous, if not impossible. Due to the localized nature of this event, total snowfall accumulations will be highly dependent on where snow bands develop and could shift significantly with changes in wind direction.
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