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Travel bans eased in some spots, but more lake-effect snow still expected

The National Weather Service is still predicting another day of heavy snow across the region with totals expected close to two feet in some spots.

  • A series of Lake Effect Snow Warnings remain in place
  • A State of Emergency in Erie County continues indefinitely
  • A Travel Ban is in effect for most of Erie County— but has been downgraded to just an advisory in several locations.

Two intense plumes of lake effect snow with snowfall rates of at least 3 inches per hour will continue northeast of the lakes into Friday night, the National Weather Service says.

In West Seneca on the border with Elma, there is at least a foot of snow to shovel, Nov. 18, 2022
WBFO Photo
In West Seneca on the border with Elma, there is at least a foot of snow to shovel, Nov. 18, 2022

"It'll probably just remain over the Southtowns of Buffalo into ... the city of Buffalo out throughout the day, today and tonight, " said Liz Jurkowski, a meteorologist in the Buffalo forecast office of the National Weather Service

The weather service has measured about 11.5 inches at the airport as of 5 a.m. Friday, Jurkowski says. Depew reported 13 inches, with 18 in the Boston Hills.

Visibility remains an issue, especially where the lake-effect snow bands form.

"As that band heads north into Niagara County, things should start to lighten up a bit, you should be able to be able to get outside and start clearing out some of that snow," Jurkowski. "And then as that band shifts out Saturday night ... you'll wake up just a couple more inches Sunday morning."

Total predicted snowfall for Western New York, through Sunday Nov.20, 2022
National Weather Service
Total predicted snowfall for Western New York, through Sunday Nov.20, 2022

Travel is still not advised nor easy, but an outright ban in Erie County has been changed to an advisory only for Amherst, Buffalo, Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Grand Island, Newstead, North Collins, Sardinia, and the Town and City of Tonawanda.

As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, the NFTA says bus service will return to areas in Erie County outside of the travel ban beginning at noon. The NFTA-Metro is still operating and bus service continues in Niagara County. Paratransit has been suspended but the NFTA is asking riders to reschedule if possible.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has issued travel ban for the City of Buffalo south of William Street.

"We do want to express our sincere appreciation to the residents of Erie County who for the most part heeded the warning that we have out there to stay off the roads they they took our advice and the travel ban and we really think that that is a major reason why and I'll things are getting up to speed," said Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr., in announcing the travel ban change, early Friday morning

Neaverth cautioned, however, that while some areas might not have seen as much snowfall as others, no one should be lulled into a false sense of security.

"So this thing is still moving ... even though you might not have snow in your area you could. There is still a winter storm watch for southern area in Chautauqua County," he said

Southern Erie County
-Including the cities of Orchard Park and Springville
Heavy lake effect snow
Total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 feet in the most persistent lake snows. Highest totals likely in Hamburg and Orchard Park.
Winds gusting as high as 35 mph will produce patchy blowing snow.
Travel will be difficult to impossible

Northern Erie County and Genesee County
- including Buffalo and Batavia
Heavy lake effect snow expected.
Total snow accumulations of 2 to 4 feet in the most persistent lake snows.
The heaviest snow is expected late Thursday evening through Friday night when snowfall rates could exceed 3 inches per hour.
Snowfall totals of up to 4 feet will be possible if the main snow band remains stationary for longer period of time.
Winds gusting as high as 35 mph with produce patchy blowing snow.
Travel will be very difficult to impossible.
Heavy snow could also bring down some tree limbs and cause scattered power outages.

Niagara County
- including Niagara Falls
Heavy lake effect snow likely.
Total snow accumulations of 8 to 16 inches in the most persistent snow areas.
Wind gusts as as high as 35 MPH will produce patchy blowing snow.
Travel could be difficult to impossible.
Tree limbs and wires may fall, causing power outages.

In advance of the storm, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday urged residents in Western New York to stay home

“We’re expecting upwards of two to four feet. It’s not just the volume, two to four feet the first night, we could possibly see anywhere from four to six feet between now and Sunday. It is the rate of snow that is most concerning,” Hochul said.

Initial snow projections stated snow would fall at a rate of up to two inches per hour but the National Weather Service now says the rate is now expected to be two to four inches per hour which the governor called “extraordinary.”

“That level of snow coming down with that intensity is what creates the dangerousness and the lack of ability to see on the roads,” Hochul said.

A Tops Market store on Transit Road in Depew had no bread available early Thursday evening, Nov. 17, 2022, in advance of Lake Effect snows predicted
WBFO News/Dave Debo
A Tops Market store on Transit Road in Depew had no bread available early Thursday evening, Nov. 17, 2022, in advance of Lake Effect snows predicted

The warnings created a flurry of activity at area grocery stores, with a run on some basic items like milk, bread and cold cuts.

A Tops Market in Depew had no bread — only hamburger or hotdog rolls available — by 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening. A similar rush was reported at a Target store in North Buffalo and elsewhere.

Hochul said the state and local officials have taken steps in preparation for the snow storm including activating the National Guard, pre-salting the streets and the closure of schools.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Buffalo Public Schools will be closed Friday garbage and recycling collection for Friday has been postponed in preparation for the storm.

“I want to ask people in the city of Buffalo and throughout our region to stay off the roads between Thursday at seven and Friday at seven. If you have to get items if you have to stock up if you have to do things. The time to do that is right now before the snow starts to fly,” Brown said.

“If you must go out, you have to leave plenty of time and go very, very slowly," said New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray. "Visibility will likely be next to zero. The National Weather Service has deemed the event an extreme winter storm on its severity index for Jefferson County, Genesee County and Erie County."

The Wyoming County Sheriff's Office issued a travel advisory for the entire county Friday morning.