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



CNN

Parts of New York state are reeling on Thursday from a blizzard that could close roads and paralyze cities for days.

“This event will have a very real potential to produce paralyzing snowfall that can be measured in feet for the Buffalo and Watertown metro areas,” said the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Total Lake effect snow can be measured in feet across western New York.

A violent snowstorm began Wednesday and is expected to cause treacherous road conditions at least through the weekend.

“Visibility will drop to zero at times and highways will be covered in snow making hazardous travel nearly impossible,” the National Weather Service said.

A storm on Wednesday night dumped 10 inches of snow in South Wales, about 25 miles southeast of Buffalo. The nearby town of Colden was hit with more than 8 inches of snow, the weather service said.

And the worst is yet to come.

The heaviest snow is expected to begin Thursday night and continue through Friday, with more snow falling over the weekend, the weather service said.

“This is going to be a very persistent snow event with major lake effects east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock told CNN.

Downwind areas of Lake Erie and Ontario can be hit by thunder and lightning on top of the snowfall.

Several feet of snow is also forecast Thursday and Friday for the Buffalo and Watertown areas of New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, the National Weather Service said.

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

Parts of Indiana and northeast Ohio have already picked up more than a foot of snow, CNN Meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

And more than 5 million people around the Great Lakes are under snow warnings Thursday.

Those areas are hammered by lake effect snow – which occurs when very cold, windy conditions form on an unfrozen lake.

A lake, for example, can be around 40 degrees, while the air temperature can be below freezing.

“That differential in air creates some instability and water provides a source of moisture,” said CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller. “When it gets to land, it deposits water vapor as snow.”

Commercial traffic will be prohibited starting at 16:00 Thursday on about 130 miles from the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) in the area of ​​Rochester and Buffalo to the border of Pennsylvania, said Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

Residents should take precautions – and look out for each other, the head of the state’s emergency services urged.

“Don’t take this storm lightly,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of New York’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

“We all need to check on our neighbors, especially vulnerable neighbors, to help them prepare for the winter weather in the forecast.”

Snow fell Wednesday in Erie, Pennsylvania, as the first lake effect storm of the season hit the area.

New York’s governor plans to issue a state of emergency Thursday, he said.

“My team and I deployed emergency response assets ahead of the storm, stayed in touch with local officials, and focused on the forecast,” Hochul said in a press release.

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

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