Snowstorm ‘pretty much on track’ as it moves into Buffalo region - The Buffalo News

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Snowstorm ‘pretty much on track’ as it moves into Buffalo region

Grab the shovel and snow brush and rev up the snowblower.

Snow moved into the region this afternoon, and because it’s not the lake-effect variety, everyone will get some.

In Buffalo and northern Erie County, as well as Niagara County, accumulations could total 4 to 8 inches by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

An inch or less could fall this afternoon, followed by 3 to 6 inches tonight and 1 to 2 inches on Wednesday, according to the weather service forecast.

The winter storm warning remains in effect from 4 p.m. today to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The weather service said the snow will result in “very difficult Thanksgiving holiday travel” with snow-covered and slippery roads. The heavy wet nature of the snow may lead to isolated power outages.

The weather service reported earlier this afternoon that “widespread light snow” broke out along the New York-Pennsylvania border as the storm continued trekking northward toward Buffalo Niagara.

“The leading edge of this light snow will continue making its way northward,” the weather service reported, “and, will be somewhere near a line drawn from Buffalo east to Batavia … between 2 and 2:30 p.m.”

It will make its way to the southern shore of Lake Ontario by 3:30 p.m.

“It looks pretty much on track,” meteorologist Dan Kelly said.

Light snowfall will begin filtering into the Buffalo metro area this afternoon and turn heavier as the evening wears on.

While the snow will arrive in time for the afternoon commute, it will likely remain light with only an inch or less accumulation by drive time.

“It could put a coating down on the roads,” he said.

Visibility could be as low as a half a mile at times.

“I think the majority will have fallen when people wake up in the morning, maybe 3 to 5 inches by daybreak,” meteorologist Kirk Apffel of the National Weather Service said.

The snow will be deeper in southern Erie County and through the Boston Hills, the Chautauqua ridge and Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties. Because of some lake effect there, the snow will last longer into Wednesday in these areas, which may receive 10 to 15 inches.

The first signs of the precipitation associated with the winter storm came at about noon as the earliest fringes trekked northward, crossing over the border in the Southern Tier from Pennsylvania from about Jamestown through Olean and into central Allegany County.

Light snow and a misty fog was reported at Olean as temperatures hovered at about 30 degrees.

Wind and rain are not expected to be much of a factor, but temperatures dropping from freezing to around 20 degrees Wednesday night could freeze the slush on the ground and make driving conditions difficult.

By Thanksgiving day, the snow should taper off, with a few flurries in Buffalo and high temperatures expected to be in the mid- to upper-20s.

The large winter storm, spawned by a low centered near the Gulf of Mexico, already showed some teeth this morning in parts of the south and Appalachian Mountains with mixed weather ranging from rain and freezing rain in some spots to heavy snowfall in others.

As of mid-morning today, areas of western and central Pennsylvania already reported up to three inches of snow.

Communities in Mississippi reported four inches of rain or more in places.

Areas of Virginia and North Carolina reported freezing rain ice amounts of up to nearly a quarter-inch in places, according to National Weather Service reports.

The weather has impacted air travel.

Delays began slowly piling up at Buffalo Niagara International Airport because of the storm’s impact elsewhere across the eastern third of the country.

Airlines delayed departures to Baltimore, Newark, Tampa, Detroit and New York City, while flights into the Buffalo airport from New York, Detroit and Atlanta were also delayed, according to real-time airport data boards.

A high pressure system is supposed to arrive for the weekend, bringing an end to the snow but not the cold. Forecasts call for temperatures in the 20s Friday and a high just above freezing Saturday.

The snowfall should put Buffalo Metro’s seasonal amount at normal levels. The total for the season, as registered at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, stands at 1.2 inches. Normal is 6.6 inches.

The storm is expected to hit areas from east-central Ohio through New York’s North Country, and almost all of Western New York except for Allegany County.

Forecasters characterize it as a “synoptic” snow event, meaning it occurs when the winds associated with the snowfall do not pass over the Great Lakes.

The National Weather Service cautioned that early holiday travel would be disrupted by the storm. Some of the region’s busiest airports – New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte – could see delays.

The storm is brightening the prospects for skiers and ski operators.

Kissing Bridge in Colden will open Wednesday, a full month ahead of last year. Two trails and two lifts will open. The hours will be noon to 8 p.m.

Holiday Valley ski resort in Ellicottvile will open Friday with a base of 10 to 25 inches of snow, helped by 6 inches of natural snowfall since Saturday.

At least 11 trails will be open with five quad lifts in operation. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Peek ‘n Peak in Clymer reported on its website that it plans to open Friday, with the first chair lift running at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, at the City of Buffalo’s Broadway Barn, 201 Broadway, Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak this morning told assembled media that city workers have been preparing for the coming snowstorm.

“We are ready for this snowfall that’s coming our way,” Stepniak said, against a backdrop of salt stored several feet high.

“We had crews out last night, throwing some salt last night. As you know, we’ve had some small events. This is the first significant event that we’ve had for the season,” Stepniak added.

The city has 7,000 tons of salt in reserve being stored at the city’s public works facility on Fuhrmann Boulevard. Stepniak said the city has added to its fleet of wing plows which, he said, “is an added plow to a single unit, which allow you added surface space [because] you a plow in the front and a plow on the side.”

Otherwise, Stepniak said, there are no extra special preparations in place.

“We stick to our game plan, which works very well for us,” he said.

“We’ve scheduled properly. As you know, being that it’s a holiday … that we’ll have some overtime involved that’s fully budgeted for and we prepared that in our budget. So again, we feel fully confident,” Stepniak added.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced he directed state transportation agencies “to take all necessary preparations to be ready to clear roadways as quickly as possible” in advance of this first “major storm of the season.”

Local utility crews also encouraged customers to stay aware of the forecast and the “possibility of service interruptions” and keep themselves safe during the storm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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