Parts of New York are measuring the season’s first big snowfall, as nearly 3 feet blanketed the Buffalo area Tuesday, thus forcing the closure of a 105-mile stretch of the state Thruway. According to the Thruway Authority, the snowy conditions have closed Interstate 90 in both directions Tuesday morning from the Rochester area to Dunkirk, on Lake Erie, 35 southwest of Buffalo. The National Weather Service also confirmed the almost 3 feet of snow that has fallen on areas south and east of the city.
Furthermore other major highways in the area are closed, a lot of schools have cancelled classes and Buffalo officials have issued a driving ban for parts of the city as well. Meteorologist Steven J. Welch said Monday night it depends on whether the lake-effect band remains stationary in one location. He predicted a lot of snow that would make road travel impossible.
“It looks like everything is coming together,” Mr. Welch eventually concluded.
Before the storm hit Monday evening, the National Weather Service warned that snow off the Great Lakes could pile more than two feet high around Buffalo and across the Tug Hill region north of Syracuse through Wednesday afternoon. Winds gusting more than 30 mph were making travel impossible along the Thruway. Similar conditions were expected later Tuesday and into Wednesday along Interstate 81 between Syracuse and the Canadian border.
Along the Lake Erie shore, city officials said Buffalo was prepared with eight new pieces in its 75-vehicle snow-fighting fleet, along with 4,000 tons of salt on hand and 7,000 tons in reserve. “Our fleet is in good shape,” Streets Commissioner Steven Stepniak told reporters Monday ahead of the snow. “It’s in the best shape it’s been.” School administrators, meanwhile, were waiting to see where the hard-to-predict lake bands would strike before cancelling Tuesday classes. The Tug Hill region on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario, notorious for its yearly snow totals, was bracing for two to three feet of snow.
The National Weather Service said the Lake Michigan shoreline could get 6 to 16 inches of snow by Tuesday, while 4 to 18 inches was forecast along Lake Superior. Parts of Indiana and Ohio also dealt Monday with wintry weather, including snow, power outages, school closings and delays. A chain reaction crash involving more than a dozen vehicles blocked an icy section of Interstate 74 near Indianapolis for a couple of hours.
City of Buffalo schools called off classes, as did most other school districts in the region.