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Blizzard warning, driving ban, state of emergency in Buffalo

WBFO News photo by Avery Schneider

A Blizzard Warning remains in effect for Erie, Wyoming and Genesee counties until 1 a.m. Thursday. A State of Emergency has been declared in Erie County and a driving ban in Buffalo and several local municipalities.  

There are accompanying travel bans in Alden, Aurora, Boston, Brant, Eden, Elma, Evans, Hamburg, Marilla, North Collins, Orchard Park, Wales, and all the villages in those towns. Genesee County has also issued a travel ban. 

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday he declared a State of Emergency for the city due to the harardous conditions. Tuesday night, the mayor issued a driving ban in the city, in effect until 7 a.m. Thursday.

“No unnecessary travel. If you don’t have to be at work for a critical work assessment or if you don’t’ have to be at a critical medical appointment – stay at home,” said Brown. 

Brown also announced Buffalo City Hall will be closed Thursday. He pointed out with difficult snow conditions and bitter cold temperatures and wind chills that could dip to minus 25 on Thursday, they want people to remain inside.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
A view of whiteout conditions continuing in downtown Buffalo late Wednesday afternoon.

“We don’t want to encourage any unnecessary travel for our workers as well as members of our public," said Brown.   

The mayor said citizens who have payments to make should not worry and will not face penalties for late payment given the weather circumstances.  

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Whiteout conditions continue along I-190 in downtown Buffalo.

Mayor Brown noted the State of Emergency will remain in effects as they monitor ongoing conditions and the aftermath of this storm. 

Whiteout conditions continue in downtown Buffalo and the city. Drifting bands of lake-effect snow are expected to drop one to two feet by the storm’s end. The hard-to-predict bands can bury some areas, even as the sun shines a short distance away. 

Credit WBFO Photo/Eileen Buckley

A Wind Chill Warning remains in effect until 6 p.m.  Thursday, and a  Winter Storm Warning remains in effect from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday for those same areas.

Forecasters in western New York are warning of blizzard-like conditions over the next few days with up to two feet of snow, plummeting temperatures and wind chills that can cause frostbite in minutes.

Travel could be very difficult to impossible, " the Weather Service's Blizzard Warning says.  "Widespread blowing snow condistions could impact the morning or evening commute.

"The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes, "it warns. 

In addition, a flash flood watch remains in place until 6 p.m. Wednesday evening for Niagara and Northern Erie Counties.  

"An ice jam remains in place on the Upper Niagara River between the NY Power Authority intake and Cayuga Island... If the ice jam worsens, flooding may be possible," the weather service says.

A more specific and likely flood warning is in place for areas of Niagara County, where the weather service says flooding could occur along the Niagara River from North Tonawanda to Niagara Falls and Grand Island .

"Some locations that will experience flooding include LaSalle Yacht Club and Cayuga Island.

Snowfall rates have been between one to two inches per hour across Buffalo, Hamburg, West Seneca and East Aurora.

The National Weather Service said the band will expand farther away from the lake and into western portions of Wyoming and Genesee Counties.

Snow will also increase late Wednesday morning and into early afternoon. Winds will gust up to 35 miles per hour are creating blowing and drifting snow and treacherous driving conditions.

This is what the whiteout conditions look like from the rooftop of the WNED|WBFO building in downtown Buffalo: 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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Dave Debo's journalism career runs the gamut from public radio to commercial radio, from digital projects to newspapers. With over 30 years of experience, he's produced national television news programs and has worked as both a daily and weekly print journalist and web editor.