BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — With a major snowstorm expected this weekend across Western new York, Erie County and the city of Buffalo are making their preparations.
In the city of Buffalo, up to four feet of snow is expected beginning on Thursday night and going until Saturday night with a light dusting on Sunday. Winds across the area are expected to be up tp 35 miles per hour, creating possible “whiteout” conditions. Snow is expected to fall at speeds of up to three inches per hour.
The city has prepped more than 100 pieces of equipment to help with the cleanup in the coming days and will also have assistance from the New York State Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security as well as multiple private contractors, those set to begin on Friday, according to Buffalo Department of Public Works Commissioner Nate Merton said Wednesday. The city and county is set to work 24 hours a day until the cleanup process is finished.
“Here we are eight years later and we are maybe not going to have as big of a storm we had with the Snow-vember, Winter Storm Knife, but we are going to have a doozy of a storm,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Wednesday.
Buffalo residents are reminded to follow posted parking rules across the city. When plows are in neighborhoods they will blast the horn, reminding residents to make sure that their cars are on the correct side of the road. Violators are subject to ticketing and towing. In addition, garbage pickup is suspended beginning Friday and will resume when weather conditions allow.
“Hopefully we get those cars parking on the right side of the street, allows our equipment to go down, but we are just attacking it a lot faster in terms of the response overall,” Nate Marton, Buffalo Commissioner of Public Works, said.
It is possible that the county will take over plowing on major roads in the city of Buffalo, including Elmwood Avenue, Delaware Avenue, Pearl Street and Franklin Street.
The National Weather Service has called for “extreme” weather conditions for both northern and southern Erie County. County offices and libraries will be closed on Friday, while Poloncarz recommended that private businesses and schools also close.
As for roads, the following will be closed for commercial traffic for the following:
- I-90, exits 46 in Rochester to exit 61 PA border
- Interstate 190 – Route 62 to I-90
- Interstate 290
- Interstate 990
- Route 33
- Route 219 – Route 39 to I-90
- Route 400
- Buffalo Skyway Route 5
- I-81 exit 33 to Canadian border – trucks use right lane only
There is a travel advisory for all of Erie County starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. A travel ban may be considered based on snowfall. As for the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, officials there will decide if it stays open.
“It is possible that if the severity of the storm is as strong as predicted, a state of emergency would be declared early Friday and a driving ban could be put into effect for portions of Erie County,” Poloncarz added.
The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Orchard Park. Poloncarz says the team decides if the game is played and is responsible for shoveling out the stadium and plowing the parking lots.
“If they get three feet of snow between Thursday night and Saturday, it may be difficult for them to hold a game. But I leave it up to them to make that decision,” Poloncarz continued.
Buffalo residents are urged to sign on to the BuffAlert System by texting your zip code to 38276 to receive important announcements regarding the storm. The city is also launching its plow tracking system, where residents can see when their neighborhood will be cleared.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.