Commuters headed home after work around metro Buffalo on Thursday aren't expected to experience any major travel problems as a lake-effect snow band will remain well south of the city, officials said.
"We were out early this morning snowplowing and salting," Orchard Park Highway Superintendent Fred Piasecki said just before 4:30 p.m. "Throughout the day we got a little bit of flurries, but for the most part the constant snows have stayed further south."
Lake-effect snow continues to fall well south of Buffalo at a rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour and it may pick up to three or more inches an hour, said Aaron Reynolds, meteorologist with the weather service in Cheektowaga.
Snowfall was heaviest at mid-afternoon around Silver Creek, Springville and along the border of Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, he said.
Route 39 in Springville was closed briefly this afternoon after a two-car crash at the intersection with Route 240, the Erie County Sheriff's Office reported. Traffic was restricted until the vehicles could be removed and plows could make a pass, authorities said. No injuries were reported.
Snow is falling along Route 219 near Genesee Road in town of Concord in southern Erie County pic.twitter.com/JC6ainVELz
— NYSDOT Western NY (@NYSDOTBuffalo) December 8, 2016
So far, the region's biggest snowfall total is Perrysburg in Cattaraugus County, where a spotter reported 7.3 inches of snow as of 1:05 p.m., the weather service said. A few inches have fallen in areas including Silver Creek in Chautauqua County and Silver Springs in Wyoming County, Reynolds said.
Orchard Park picked up between an inch and two inches Thursday morning, mainly in the southern portion of the town, Piasecki said.
"Right now it looks good and most of the activity has stayed to the far south of us," he said.
Forecasters predict the lake-effect band will remain in place until about 1 a.m. Friday, when winds will shift to out of the northwest. After that, areas southeast of the lakes will get the brunt of the snowfall, Reynolds said.
There may be heavier bursts of snowfall embedded in any "thundersnow" in the lake-effect band, he added. But the Buffalo metro area will receive only a trace, or 1 to 2 inches of snow at most.
— NWS Buffalo (@NWSBUFFALO) December 8, 2016
A lake-effect band that dropped snow in places like Hamburg and Orchard Park overnight into Thursday had weakened and moved further south Thursday morning.
The band will continue to shift south, focusing on the Southern Tier and extreme southern Erie County on Thursday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Kirk Apffel said.
A lake-effect snow warning went into effect at 6 a.m. There was a trace of snow at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga overnight.
Updated predictions for snowfall totals in the area call for around 3 to 5 inches during the day, forecasters said. Another 6 to 11 inches may accumulate tonight in the heaviest areas, with another 4 to 8 inches falling Friday during the daytime and 3 to 5 inches Friday night.
The thermometer will struggle to reach the freezing mark in Buffalo today, while high temperatures in the Southtowns and Southern Tier are expected to be in the upper 20s.
Snowfall is likely to continue over the weekend - the lake-effect snow warning runs through Friday night and then a system will move through the area, according to Apffel.
Snowfall totals through the weekend are expected to hit up to 2 feet in the western Southern Tier, along the Chautauqua Ridge and along the Pennsylvania border.