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Blowing and drifting snow remains as Lake Effect abates

 A resident in West Seneca snowblowing their driveway
BTPM/Bree Bishop BOVE
A resident in West Seneca snowblowing their driveway

Lake effect snow warnings in WNY have expired, but the National Weather Service forecasts blowing and drifting snow to continue in many areas.

The respite from heavy Lake Effect Snows will give residents and road crews alike the chance to begin digging out of three-day storm that has left over six feet of snow in some areas. With several municipalities deploying extra equipment - including crews on loan from Rochester and the NYS DOT- schools were already beginning to cancel classes for Monday.

Frontier Central Schools announced their Monday closure early Sunday, followed by Buffalo Public Schools before noon.

The most (snow) that was recorded by a trained spotter from the National Weather Service 77 inches, a grand total of six feet five inches, the same height as Josh Allen. And that is a very, very large amount of snow. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

As of Saturday morning, the National Weather Service reported 77 inches in Orchard Park, 73 inches in Hamburg and 65 inches near Blasdell.

  I-90 at Exit 54 (Route 400) as seen Sunday Nov. 20 on a NYS Traffic camera
I-90 at Exit 54 (Route 400) as seen Sunday Nov. 20 on a NYS Traffic camera

As of 8 a.m. Sunday, travel bans remained in place for south Buffalo, Evans, the Town of Hamburg, including the Villages of Hamburg and Blasdell, Lackawanna and Orchard Park.

Route 400 is closed from I-90 to Olean Road in both directions.

Route 219 is closed from Peters Rd to I-90 East in both directions


Cleanup and plowing efforts press on in several municipalities, with state Department of Transportation plows and private contractors bolstering the usual workforce.

"We have high lifts on the road buckets full of of snow, we have large large construction vehicles that you normally would not see on the road, because they're taking the snow that is being picked up by the high lifts, and they're dumping them at locations in Erie County," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a briefing Saturday evening, explaining the continued travel bans. "And this is not a safe situation because these are very, very large construction vehicles that you really don't want to be driving next to and that's an addition to the plows that we have out there."

The New York State Thruway reopened to traffic at 9 a.m. Sunday between Rochester (exit 46 and the Pennsylvania border). However, Poloncarz warned that if you exit onto Route 219, or at any other location that there is a travel ban, police at the exit ramps will be ticketing violators.

 Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (center) and Public works Commisoner Nathan Marton hold a storm briefing, Nov 20, 2022
City of Buffalo
screen grab via Facebook video
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (center) and Public works Commisoner Nathan Marton hold a storm briefing, Nov 20, 2022

"As we continue to make progress in South Buffalo, it is possible that we will lift the travel ban here," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown early Sunday morning. "Again, we thank the residents of South Buffalo, Kaisertown, the southern portion of the city for their cooperation for their patience."

"We know that people have been stuck at home for days. So we want to try to get conditions improved, mains and secondaries residentials as quickly as possible so that we can lift the travel ban on the southern part of the city," Brown added.

Buffalo set a record for daily snowfall on Saturday, accumulating 16.1 inches by about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

"Our plan of attack: get into residential streets citywide starting at eight o'clock this (Sunday) morning," Brown said. "We have been plowing overnight throughout the city and hauling snow in South Buffalo overnight. As you know, we got over four feet of snow in South Buffalo in Kaisertown. That operation of hauling snow out continued into the night. It's going very well."


Wind gusts of up to 50 mph on Monday may create areas of blowing and drifting snow.

Plan on slippery road conditions, and areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.

Copyright 2022 WBFO. To see more, visit WBFO.

Dave Debo's journalism career runs the gamut from public radio to commercial radio, from digital projects to newspapers. With over 30 years of experience, he's produced national television news programs and has worked as both a daily and weekly print journalist and web editor.