BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Unrelenting waves of snow crashed into western New York, hammering various parts of the region as clouds pick up moisture over Lake Erie.
The lake snow forced officials across New York State to pay attention as for the third day, whiteout conditions blanketed various locations, prompting New York State to close down nearly 50 miles of the New York State Thruway.
The closure marked a 48.8 mile stretch from Hamburg to Westfield, closed due to accidents that have widely been attributed to the whiteout conditions. Just before 4 p.m., officials reopened the westbound to Dunkirk, then reopened the rest of the road soon after.
Nearly 20 miles of the Thruway were closed down on Tuesday after a massive accident between a host of tractor trailers and other, smaller vehicles.
Extreme visibility issues plagued other roads, specifically near Evans and Angola, where whiteout conditions persisted through much of the afternoon, as the band of snow hung over the area for much of the afternoon.
Governor Cuomo activated on Tuesday the New York State Emergency Operations Center for Lake Effect Snow, freeing up thousands of workers and pieces of equipment to address the hardest hit areas, spanning from Buffalo to Syracuse. Cuomo also issued words of warning to drivers and those out in the elements, saying, “I encourage everyone who must travel to plan ahead and drive carefully.”
Officials also warned residents to be cautious of the cold temperatures, warning parents to bundle up their children and to avoid staying out in the elements for very long — especially once the sun drops.
Wind chill will drop temperatures to unbearable freezing levels, prompting yet another Code Blue alert, activated to give those without shelter in the cold a place to stay.
The combined elements of freezing temperatures, harsh wind and unrelenting snow led to a host of warnings for western New Yorkers.
- Northern Erie County is under a Lake Effect Snow Warning until 7 a.m. on Thursday, starting Wednesday afternoon.
- Southern Erie and Wyoming Counties are under Lake Effect Snow Warnings until 4 a.m. on Thursday.
- Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties are under a Lake Effect Snow Warning until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, but could see that extended.
- Niagara County is currently under a lesser Lake Effect Snow Advisory until 7 a.m. on Thursday.
The hardest hit areas between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning are expected to be in the northern half of western New York, with Erie County’s northern half slated to pick up more than a half foot of snow.
Officials warned in various parts of the state, visibility will be as low as a quarter of a mile at times.