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Feet of snow expected for western New York as prolonged ‘crippling’ lake effect snow begins tonight

Synopsis: This week’s lake effect snowfall in the western New York is expected to be “paralysing,” according to forecasters.

Lake effect snow
Feet of lake effect snow for the areas around the Great Lakes

Feet of snow expected for western New York as prolonged ‘crippling’ lake effect snow begins tonight

Snow isn’t usually a big deal in western New York. However, this week’s lake effect snowfall in the region is expected to be “paralysing,” according to forecasters.

The multi-day snowfall is expected to begin Wednesday evening and last through the weekend, with snow measured in feet rather than inches in and around Buffalo and Watertown.

Snow to intensify Thursday night

The first round of snow is expected Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with accumulations of up to 9 inches possible.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo said, “This will be the start of a prolonged lake effect snow event which will likely include paralyzing snowfall for the Buffalo and Watertown areas late this week through the weekend.”

Cold air from Canada will rush over the warmer waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Because of the warmer water, the air will rise, forming clouds and, eventually, snow.

The wind will then push the clouds over areas east of the lake, dumping massive amounts of snow for days on end.

According to the Buffalo weather service, the “crippling” lake-effect snow will intensify Thursday night, resulting in snowfall amounts that could be measured in feet for the Buffalo and Watertown metro areas.

Lake effect snow totals could be measured in feet across parts of western New York.

As a result, a lake-effect snow warning is in effect for the region, indicating that 2 to 3 feet of snow is expected, with the potential for up to 4 feet.

Weather service in Buffalo meteorologist Jon Hitchcock told sources, “Friday looks to be the worst day for the city [of Buffalo] as snow will be intense and fall at the rate of two to three inches per hour.”

On Friday, winds will gust as high as 35 mph. The weather service warned that this will cause blowing snow and reduce visibility to only a few hundred feet at times, making travel extremely difficult and dangerous.

“Some major roadways could temporarily close,” warns the Buffalo weather service. “The hazardous conditions will impact the Friday morning and evening commutes.”

Potential to be historic

Without a doubt, Buffalo has seen its fair share of massive snowfalls.

Many people were stranded in their cars on November 20, 2000, when 2 feet of snow fell in less than 24 hours, and the twin storms that made “Snow mageddon” (2014) famous, with over 5 feet of snow.

Lake effect snow: “Snow-mageddon” paralyzed the Buffalo area in 2014.

“It’s too early to say if we’re going to get that much snow,” Hitchcock said, “but [it] could be the worst event for the city of Buffalo in the past five or six years at least.”

The snow looked like a curtain as we flew into Buffalo. There was a clear dividing line between where the snow began and ended. It was the same on the ground. There was barely a dusting of snow where we were staying. The snow was up to our chests less than 4 miles away.

Check: 2014 Buffalo snow event

The meteorology of that event was astounding; witnessing it was mind-boggling. It also served as a reminder of how hazardous lake-effect snow can be.

Lake effect snow: Feet of snow fell in the Buffalo area in November 2014.

More than a dozen people were killed in the 2014 snowstorm. While it is too early to predict how this event will unfold, meteorologists say residents should be prepared.

Hitchcock said, “The good thing is that it looks like the ‘band’ is going to be moving around for the weekend, instead of focusing on one particular location. But we could see several feet of snow in this event.” He added, “People should be ready to stay in for the weekend.”

The event is expected to continue into Sunday, affecting the Buffalo Bills’ game against the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m.

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