New Yorkers brace themselves for ‘life-threatening’ snow event this weekend

A state of emergency has been declared in eleven counties, with dozens schools announcing school closures for Friday and commercial traffic being shut down on the New York State Thruway.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Residents in western and northern New York are bracing themselves for up to 4 feet of snow this weekend.

"It's going to be a long-lived event, probably 36 hours of moderate to heavy snows across a population of over a million people, so it is a big event by all means," FOX Weather Winter Storm Specialist Tom Niziol said.

A state of emergency was declared in New York in the eleven counties that are most likely to be affected by the snowstorm. Governor Kathy Hochul issued the declaration, calling the snowstorm a "potentially life-threatening weather event."


Dozens of schools will close on Friday, the National Guard is on standby, and commercial traffic on the New York State Thruway in Erie County has been shut down.

Officials from the New York State Thruway Authority have 100 plow trucks at the ready in the Buffalo area. Their teams have pretreated the roads in preparation for what could be a historic snow event.

"I've been here 34 years, and this is the most snow in the shortest period of time that's ever been forecasted," said Matthew Latko of the NYS Thruway Authority.

Latko cautioned New Yorkers against venturing out into what will be crippling, snowy conditions.

"The important message during this storm is ‘Stay home," he said. "Stay home, and avoid travel if possible."

While many residents will heed those words, others will not be able to remain at home as they are essential workers.

"I have to work Saturday, Sunday, Monday, so I figured I’m just going to be there," said Kathy Klinger, a registered nurse in Lancaster, NY. "I’ve packed a bag, so what happens, happens."

Precautionary measures also involved the local NFL team, the Buffalo Bills. The Bills were originally scheduled to play the Cleveland Browns in the Bills’ home stadium, but the Sunday game will now be played at Ford Field in Detroit.

The last time a Bills game was moved due to snow was in 2014, when the Bills were scheduled to play the New York Jets in Buffalo. Another severe snowstorm was forecast to sweep through the area, so the NFL moved the game to the following day and in Detroit, as well.

These snow events are called lake-effect snow, which involves cold, dry air flowing across the relatively warmer waters of the Great Lakes and picking up warmth and moisture from the water. 

This rising air condenses into clouds, which can grow into narrow bands that are capable of producing snowfall rates on the order of 2 to 3 inches per hour or more, according to the National Weather Service.