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Elected officials to public amid WNY snowstorm: Stay home

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WBFO News file photo
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Gov. Kathy Hochul urged residents in Western New York to stay home when the impending snowstorm hits later this evening.

“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.


THE LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNINGS  
Southern Erie County
-Including the cities of Orchard Park and Springville
WARNING IN PLACE UNTIL 1 AM SATURDAY
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
WARNING IN PLACE UNTIL 1 PM SUNDAY
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.

 Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties
- including the cities of Jamestown and Olean
WARNING IN PLACE UNTIL 10 PM THURSDAY NIGHT
Heavy lake effect snow expected.
Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 8 inches possible in the persistent lake snow bands.
The highest amounts will be along the Lake Erie shoreline, including in Dunkirk and Silver Creek.
Total snow accumulations of 7 to 14 inches in the most persistent lake snows.
Travel will be very difficult.
Tree limbs and power lines might fall

Niagara County
- including Niagara Falls
WARNING BEGINS AT 7 PM FRIDAY UNTIL 7 AM SUNDAY
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.


Hochul said the state and local officials have already taken steps in preparation for the snowstorm 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," Brown said. "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."

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said a travel ban is not in effect as of yet and the department will evaluate the need for one as the storm progresses.

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

A travel advisory is in effect for Erie County starting at 7 p.m. Thursday.