With heavy lake effect snow still falling in the southern suburbs of the Buffalo tonight, the huge dig out from several feet of snow that has fallen over the past few days continues. Some locations have now surpassed 80 inches of snow unofficially in the several day event that only had a brief 12-hour break late Wednesday as the upper level jet stream flow briefly shifted to halt the relentless snow bands.
Many motorists continue to search for their vehicles that are now buried under huge piles of snow. It may be several days until the region is operating normally again. As of the time of this article, the Thruway (I-90) remains closed in both directions between exits 46 (Rochester, I-390) and 61 (Ripley) and the Niagara Thruway (I-190) is closed southbound only between exits 16 (Youngmann Memorial Highway – I-290) and 1 (South Ogden Street). According to the New York State Thruway Authority, vehicles removed from the Thruway have been transported to several safe and secure locations. A list of vehicle information (make, model, license plate, location) will be posted on the Thruway website once fully compiled. Owners will be able to retrieve vehicles after travel bans are lifted.
Car travel remained nearly impossible in many locations, especially in the suburbs, and numerous travel bans remained in place. Plows and loaders continued to haul snow off of the main roads and residents were advised to not throw the heavy, packed snow into the road. Crews continue to be brought in from all over the state to provide assistance.
An unseasonably cold air mass for mid-November was responsible for igniting the intense lake effect snow bands as the arctic air mass streamed over the much warmer waters of Lake Erie. Thunder and lightning was reported with heavy snowfall at times falling at rates of three to five inches per hour. Another concern in the upcoming weekend was a major but brief warm-up predicted by meteorologists that will likely cause a rapid snow melt as temperatures soar into the 50’s and 60’s with a major northward shift in the jet stream. In addition, a storm system will bring some rain showers to the area which will only add insult to injury. A continued threat of roof collapses and structural damage is a concern with heavy snow across the region. Rising streams and creeks could also become a problem into early next week as the equivalent of 7 inches of rain when the snow melts combined with any additional falling precipitation will likely lead to widespread flooding.
A flood watch was just issued for the Buffalo metro area from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning by the National Weather Service. Stay tuned for more information on this developing weather situation.