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Buffalo, N.Y., area in the midst of a truly insane lake effect snow storm

On Thursday: Historic lake effect snow just won’t stop in western New York

Update at 9:25 p.m.: The National Weather Service now reports up to 60 inches (5 feet!) of snow about 6 miles east, southeast of Buffalo near Lancaster:

Update at 4:52 p.m.: The National Weather Service has reported that one part of Cheektowaga, N.Y., has accumulated 51 inches of snow thus far, while on the other side of town, only two inches has been measured, illustrating the incredible snowfall gradient that the Buffalo area is experiencing today.

Other notable totals include 48 inches in Alden, 46 inches in Elma, and 45 inches in West Seneca, all in the state of New York.

Update at 4:00 p.m.: The snow has not let up one bit south of Buffalo, N.Y., this afternoon, where at least 48 inches has accumulated in under 24 hours in Lancaster, Lackawanna, and West Seneca, N.Y. The snow has become so bad, that the National Guard will help to dig people out, writes The Buffalo News:

Erie County Supervisor Mark Poloncarz announced at an afternoon conference that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is dispatched the National Guard to help dig us out.
It’s looking like this storm could turn out to be one of the history books, meteorologists agreed.
“This will be a historic event. Absolutely. It is a historic event,” said Dave Zaff, also with the weather service.

Around 70 inches of snow is expected in the heaviest bands through at least Thursday. The week’s totals will undoubtedly rival the all-time snowfall record for Buffalo, which was 81.6 inches over the course of five days in 2001.

After a brief snow hiatus on Wednesday afternoon and evening, another round is expected to begin on Thursday morning. The National Weather Service has issued another lake effect snow warning from Thursday until Friday afternoon.

Original post:

An insane lake effect snow band has set up just south of Buffalo, N.Y., the home of some of the most intense lake effect snow in the country. Yes, you’re reading this correctly — five to six feet of snow is expected around Buffalo, N.Y., through Thursday.

Some locations south of the city have already picked up more than three feet of snow as of Tuesday morning. The band of lake effect snow in question set up in earnest on Monday night after this week’s powerful cold front pushed through the eastern U.S.

The National Weather Service warned of snowfall rates up to four inches per hour on Tuesday afternoon.  Around 2 p.m., the Weather Service issued a special weather statement for the extreme snow rates, warning that “you will become trapped” if you attempt to drive in or through the areas under the snow band:

Related: Coldest November morning since 1976; All 50 states freeze

Once the winds over the lake turned from the southwest, it was game, set, match for Buffalo. A southwest wind over Lake Erie — especially this early in the season, when water temperatures are still relatively warm — puts the city into a wintry vise that’s difficult to break.

On Tuesday the Weather Service office in Buffalo wrote an ominous update to the lake effect snow watch:

What’s even more amazing about these particularly epic lake effect snow events is that just a couple miles away, there’s basically no snow on the ground. The towns of Lackawanna, West Seneca and south Cheektowaga are taking the brunt of the storm, where at least three feet of snow has fallen. A mere 10 minute drive to the north in Buffalo itself, there’s just a dusting of snow, and the sun is out.

Looking south across the lake from Buffalo, you can see the wall of snow:

Travel bans have been implemented across the Buffalo area. Parts of Interstate 90 are closed because of snow accumulation. But the snow still caught some people on the roads early Tuesday morning. “Since midnight, drivers have been stuck near the Lackawanna toll barrier on the Thruway,” writes The Buffalo News. “The State Police estimate 120 vehicles in the area near exit 55.”

According to WIVB, states of emergency have been declared in the area:

The Village of Lancaster and the Town of West Seneca have declared states of emergency because of hazardous road conditions.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown spoke to News 4 about the travel ban in South Buffalo. He said, “We do have some vehicles that are stuck. We are asking for no travel in South Buffalo, only emergency vehicles.”

New York Department of Transportation cameras show cars stuck on Interstate 90 in Lackawanna, N.Y., on Tuesday morning:

According to the Weather Service in Buffalo, the largest snow event on record was 81.6 inches in 2001, accumulated over the course of five days. While snowfall records are not kept for locations other than Buffalo itself, seven feet is still a good indicator of a historic snow event in the region, and south Buffalo will rival that amount by Thursday.