Heavy Lake Effect snows pounds northtowns
A heavy Lake effect snow band that pounded areas north of Buffalo overnight. Snow bands have shifted southward and will continue south through mid-morning Friday. WBFO News spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Kirk Apffel who is monitoring the bands and snowfall rates.
"Last night it centered over the northtowns. We had snow fall amounts probably up to a foot in some areas," said Apffel.
The snow band will continue to produce near whiteout conditions with snow fall rates of three inches an hour and near zero visibility at times. Winds will gust to 35-miles an hour, causing blowing snow.
"Areas that have already gotten snow, blowing and drifting will continue to be an issue throughout the day," said Apffel.
Thunder snow also accompanied this storm.
"The band is going to, after briefly weakening this afternoon. It's going to redevelop and re-intensify and lift back toward the city tonight. WE don't expect it is actually going to reach the downtown, but it will stall somewhere just south of there. Some of the heavier amounts will be south of the city," noted Apffel.
Residents in the north towns woke up Friday morning to big snow drifts in their driveways. Many of the side streets and secondariness were snow covered. Some vehicles were getting stuck on the side streets.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a travel advisory for Erie County. He urged people to stay off roads if at all possible. Poloncarz described overnight conditions on some roads as "treacherous," especially in Northern Erie County.
"When the snow was falling at the highest rate in the northtowns, conditions were so bad that [some crews] were either having to pull over to the side of the road or drive no faster than 10 miles an hour because of whiteout conditions."
Poloncarz praised state officials for taking the precautionary step of closing the Thruway to all traffic overnight from Rochester to the Pennsylvania line.
"Some people have criticized the Thruway for closing early. I think they did the smart thing. We've seen in the past what happens when the Thruway doesn't close and then the snow hits."
Meanwhile, dozens of workers were involved in a cleanup blitz in Buffalo. City Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak said plows were focusing on the mains and residential streets.
"We feel we have adequate crews. We have 35 crews out there right now to get the city streets cleared up," Stepniak said Friday morning.
High winds posed challenges as crews grappled with snowdrifts and poor visibility. Stepniak said the cold temperatures did not deter salting missions.
"We were doing a lot of pre-salting last night, which helps prevent hard-pack," Stepniak said.
City streets were "passable," said Stepniak, but he said morning commuters definitely needed more time to reach their destinations.
"It's going to be a slower go," he said.