Update at 5:02 p.m.: New snow totals from Wednesday at 9 p.m. through Thursday at 4 p.m.:
Wales Center, N.Y. — 37 inches, a total of 85 inches since Tuesday
Hamburg, N.Y. — 31.5 inches, a possible total of 80 inches since Tuesday
Meanwhile, just 15 miles north of Hamburg, N.Y., the Buffalo International Airport has received a mere 8.1 inches of snow since Wednesday night.
Update at 2:55 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Buffalo has updated their special weather statement, warning of snowfall rates of greater than four inches per hour. The lake effect snow band impacting the Buffalo, N.Y., area on Thursday has shifted north, as expected. Lackawanna and West Seneca, N.Y., are both in heavy snow on Thursday afternoon.
White out conditions spread across central Erie County, west into Genessee and Wyoming counties. The photo below was taken in West Seneca, N.Y., where 60 inches of snow had already fallen as of Wednesday morning. They can expect another two to three feet through Thursday night.
The heavy snow band is expected to drift south again, away from the hardest hit areas, Thursday evening.
The flakes are flying again on Thursday east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, including locations south of Buffalo, N.Y., which are already suffering under the weight of the five feet of snow they received on Tuesday.
Another two to three feet of snow is expected in the areas hardest hit earlier this week. Erie, Genessee, and Wyoming counties are under a lake effect snow warning through 1 a.m. on Friday, including the city of Buffalo, N.Y. The National Weather Service warns that snowfall three or more inches per hour are possible in the heaviest band. Heavy snow is technically defined as a six inch accumulation over 24 hours. Locations in these counties will get six times that amount.
The Weather Service is also expecting thundersnow on Thursday, which means there will be very strong rising motion. “Snowfall rates exceeding two inches per hour and the potential for thundersnow are expected to increase by midday in lee of Lakes Erie and Ontario and persist through the afternoon,” writes the Storm Prediction Center.
The snow is already accumulating fast in areas south of Buffalo on Thursday. Erie County has seen as much as 23 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. Lackawanna and Cheektowaga, which already saw up to 65 inches of snow on Tuesday has an additional 13 inches as of Thursday morning.
The heaviest snow band coming off Lake Erie is south of Buffalo, over the cities of Lake View, Eden, Hamburg, and Orchard Park in Erie County, and extending east into Wyoming County. However, this lake effect snow band will likely shift north through the afternoon, putting areas that are already inundated back in the running for additional snow.
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. Depending on where this lake effect band shifts, and how much snow it churns out in the next 12 hours, locations like West Seneca, Cheektowaga, and Lancaster will easily rival — if not blow away — this record.
Unfortunately this week’s snowy onslaught has been too much to bear for many structures across the southern Buffalo suburbs, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux writes in Post Nation:
Over 4,000 homes are without power and a boy was injured when a porch fell down in the Lancaster area. A house with people in the basement and the roof of BJ’s Wholesale Club also collapsed. People trudged through snow as high as a middle school student to find groceries.
The Buffalo News reports that roofs are collapsing under the snow that’s now up to 5- to 6-feet deep.
Capital Weather Gang contributor Dennis Mersereau analyzed this week’s insane Buffalo snow event in relation to how much snow other locations typically receive:
In Washington D.C., all of the snow that’s fallen on National Airport since January 2009 measures up to 100.8 inches, and it fell over the course of 59 calendar days. It took 59 days of snow over the course of 5 years to see as much snow in Washington as parts of western New York could see in four days.
New York City (Central Park) has seen 96.7 inches of snow over the course of 41 days since February 2011. I use Central Park for most weather in New York because the stations at LaGuardia and JFK are heavily influenced by their proximity to the water.
hey so there’s more snow… pic.twitter.com/arBg2QxRN4— Liza Ryan (@LizaBieronRyan) November 20, 2014
More snow? Really? Ok. Where do we put that snow? pic.twitter.com/LmXKYp7pAy— Joe Cantafio (@coachcant) November 20, 2014