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What is lake-effect snowstorm? Buffalo declares state of emergency as it braces for 'paralyzing' snowstorm

This natural event begins from the Great Lakes, spanning the Midwest to parts of the Northeast, and has already registered the flurries
UPDATED NOV 17, 2022
(Representative Image, Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images)
(Representative Image, Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images)

BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Buffalo is bearing the brunt of a historic lake-snow event, which is likely to blanket swaths of the country in white into the weekend as it is estimated to go up to 5 feet of snow. On Wednesday evening, November 16, the multi-day snowfall forecast began and is all set to impact the cities where it will be now measured in feet rather than usual inches for places, including Buffalo and Watertown.

“This will be the start of a prolonged lake effect snow event which will likely include paralyzing snowfall for the Buffalo and Watertown areas late this week through the weekend,” said the National Weather Service in Buffalo. This natural event begins from the Great Lakes, spanning the Midwest to parts of the Northeast, has already registered the flurries, whereas a few areas in western Michigan, northern Ohio, and northwestern Pennsylvania are picking up not less than 10 inches, reported NBC News.


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“Friday looks to be the worst day for the city [of Buffalo] as snow will be intense and fall at the rate of two to three inches per hour,” Jon Hitchcock, a Buffalo meteorologist told CNN. Hitchcock added, “Some major roadways could temporarily close. The hazardous conditions will impact the Friday morning and evening commutes.” Reflecting on whether it could be a repeat of November 2000, when several were left stranded in their vehicles, as 2 feet of snow fell within 24 hours, he said, “It’s too early to say if we’re going to get that much snow, but [it] could be the worst event for the city of Buffalo in the past five or six years at least.”

New York State Police said that the commercial vehicle bans will be in effect from 4 pm on Thursday, November 17, onwards in Western New York on several roads. This includes the full length of Interstate 290, Interstate 990, Route 33, and Route 400, as per the report.

What is the lake-effect snowstorm?

It is when arctic air runs across the relatively milder waters of the Great Lakes every fall. It is mostly localized, but the snowfalls can reach up to massive feet of intense snow in the New York region. The temperature also drops to a point making it the coldest air of the season.

The forecasters also claim that Minneapolis will witness a high of 27 degrees on Thursday, November 17, Chicago a high of 33 degrees, and New York and Washington of 46 degrees, the report said.