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A deep freeze and winter storm warnings for much of the region in the next few days

Denise Young

An intense winter storm is barreling across the U.S. and the Rochester area will start feeling the brunt of its impact on Friday.

Thursday will just see some rain, and milder temperatures with a high in the 40s.

But meteorologist Josh Nichols says expect a mixture of precipitation on Friday, with temp’s turning sharply colder throughout the day, dropping into the teens by the afternoon.

Nichols says we could see 2 - 5 inches of accumulation Friday before lake effect snows develop.

Saturday look for heavy lake effect snows, primarily southwest and northeast of Rochester with a high of only 19.

Sunday, Christmas Day, will see areas of lake snow, and a high of 23, and the cold weather continues into Monday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Monroe County from Friday morning into Sunday morning, calling for the possibility of total accumulation of 6 – 10 inches.

The weather service has also issued a Blizzard Warning for counties including Genesee and Orleans from Friday morning to Sunday morning, with snow accumulations of 1 – 3 feet possible.

The winds will be an issue for most of us, with the possibility of wind-related power outages. Winds in Monroe could gust as high as 60 mph during the winter storm, and up to 70 mph to the west of Rochester.

Governor Kathy Hochul says she’s directed state agencies to prepare equipment and staff to deal with any impacts from what is expected to be a long-duration winter storm.

Jackie Bray is the state’s commissioner of Homeland Security, and she says one of the steps the state could consider taking over the weekend is limiting some commercial traffic on the Thruway.

“There is certainly a chance that we may divert traffic of trucks, particularly empty truck traffic away from the Thruway,” Bray says. “That wouldn’t surprise me at all, those conversations are ongoing. We’re not ready to make that decision yet.”

Bray says that state officials will do whatever they can to keep the Thruway and other state roads open to regular passenger traffic over the holiday weekend.

Bray also says that utility companies have beefed up their ranks for this storm.

“We have over 7,000 utility line men and women in the state. That’s about 2,200 more than we usually have, ready to respond. They’re going to be working as fast as they can, but folks should be ready for power outages in the event that happens,” Bray advises.

The storm is also expected to have a major impact on holiday travel, with the AAA estimating nearly 113 million people expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday season.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.