'Paralyzing' Snowstorm Forecast for Buffalo Area

'Prolonged lake-effect snow event' could dump up to 4 feet of snow on region
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2022 5:39 AM CST
'Paralyzing' Snowstorm Forecast for Buffalo Area
It's time for Buffalo residents to dust off their snow shovels.   (Getty Images/photoschmidt)

Residents of the Buffalo area have been told to brace for a potentially "historic" early-season snowstorm that could dump up to 4 feet of snow on the region by Saturday morning. The National Weather Service says a "prolonged lake-effect snow event" is developing in western New York state, and the effects could be "crippling or paralyzing." Liz Jurkowski at the weather service's Buffalo office tells the New York Times that meteorologists use those terms "very rarely." "We usually don’t pull these terms out except for historic events," she says.

Lake-effect snow happens when cold air passes over a relatively warm lake, sucking up moisture into band of clouds that dump large amounts of snow, per USA Today. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are warmer than usual this year after an exceptionally mild fall. "The warmer waters are creating a greater temperature difference and ... more instability," Jurkowski says. She says "thundersnow"—thunderstorms with snow instead of rain—"will definitely be possible off both lakes."

Forecasters say lake-effect snow is also likely in parts of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over the next few days. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul plans to declare an emergency Thursday morning, ABC reports. "Hazardous travel conditions and local power outages as a result of the storm are likely due to the combination of snow, ice and wind in the forecast," her office said in a statement. The Buffalo Bills have a home game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, and USA Today predicts it will be a "classic NFL snow game." (Read more snowstorm stories.)

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