BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A state of emergency took effect at 10 a.m. Thursday after it was announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul the previous day. It will last throughout the incoming snow storm that could dump two feet of snow on the Buffalo area this weekend.

Hochul also announced that several highways will be closed to commercial traffic starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, including the New York State Thruway. She also urged western New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel Thursday evening through Friday. Highways closed to commercial traffic include:

  • Interstate 90: Pennsylvania border to Rochester (exits 46-61)
  • Interstate 190: Route 62 to I-90
  • Interstate 290: full length
  • Interstate 990: full length
  • Route 33: full length
  • Route 219: Route 39 to I-90
  • Route 400: full length
  • Buffalo Skyway Route 5: full length
  • I-81: Exit 33 to Canadian border – trucks use right lane only

Hochul said any trucks or commercial vehicles using these highways after 4 p.m. Thursday will be ticketed.

“Use today to get ready for this major event,” said Hochul. “This means getting gas in your tanks, stocking up on groceries, getting plenty of batteries, getting ready to check on neighbors — make sure they’re ready for this, especially our elderly neighbors. This is something Western New Yorkers know how to do very well. I’m proud of how we’ve gotten through so many of these in the past. With the experience I’ve seen, it’s all about being proactive, and anticipating the worst and hoping for the best. We’ll see what mother nature brings.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says a travel advisory will take effect in Erie County starting Thursday at 7 p.m.

According to Hochul, Western New York will receive an additional 40 plow operators/supervisors from the state, two equipment operator instructors and four fleet mechanics.

“We’re expecting the worst Friday and Saturday,” Hochul said. “And I do really want to manage expectations. Despite the fact that we’re going to have hundreds of plows out there … with the rate of snow expected at 3 inches per hour, it’s almost impossible to keep up with that.

“When you wake up on Friday morning and Saturday morning, there will still be impassible roads. We just want people to give our plow operators the time and the space to be able to do their jobs so by Sunday, if the weather cooperates and the storm starts abating, we’ll be able to be ready to get people on the roads by then.”

Weather conditions are expected to improve Sunday. The Bills are scheduled to host the Cleveland Browns in Orchard Park at 1 p.m.

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.