The totals began mounting tonight after a widespread storm dumped blankets of wind-whipped snow across the region.
By evening, some of the highest totals were recorded in parts of Cattaraugus County, southwest of Buffalo and immediately north of the Pennsylvania border.
According to the National Weather Service, 10.3 inches of snow was recorded in the Town of Allegany just before 7 p.m. in the southeast corner of Cattaraugus County; 6.3 inches in Salamanca, which is just northwest of Allegany; and 4 inches in Perrysburg in the northwestern most part of the county.
By contrast, only 3.3 inches was recorded at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga shortly before 8 p.m.
About 8 inches of snowfall was forecast to accumulate overnight in the some of the valleys and lower elevations across Western New York, with as much as 16 inches forecast for the higher elevations.
“The amounts will be highly localized. More snow is favored in locations on hilltops that tend to be a little more exposed to catching snow,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Hibbert said.
The deluge of white began blanketing the region early this afternoon, a couple of hours ahead of the start of rush hour traffic, making its arrival in the Southern Tier communities between 1 and 2 p.m., bringing with it strong winds and lots of snow.
By 6 p.m., most roads across Western New York – including the State Thruway and major expressways – were snow-covered and slick, as police and rescue workers across the region began answering calls for minor crashes and vehicles that had skidded off pavement.
Motorists were injured in wrecks in Buffalo at Main Street and Winspear Avenue and in Cheektowaga near the Walden Galleria. On the Thruway, a car slid into a ditch near the Williamsville toll barrier, state police said, but troopers had no serious Thruway incidents to report tonight.
The storm came quickly, said Kirk Apffel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheektowaga.
“It went from light snow to heavy snow within minutes here at the airport,” Apffel said.
The band brought snow from Buffalo to Rochester and southward, said Apffel, who anticipated that it reached the shores of Lake Ontario by 6 p.m. and will last throughout the region until about 5 a.m. Thursday. The forecast calls for heavy snow, falling at times at a rate of two inches an hour.
The forecast of heavy snow prompted a winter storm warning from the weather service that went into effect at 4 p.m. and remains in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.
Driving conditions were starting to get slippery in time for rush hour – Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy S. Whitcomb advised no unnecessary travel in his county – but the worst of the storm wasn’t expecting to start until after the rush hour was over. Still, the heavy snow combined with winds in the 20 mph to 30 mph range made for difficult driving conditions.
Meanwhile, temperatures are expected to hover in the 20s. Today’s high barely reached 30 degrees.
Some light snow is expected Thursday, and Friday should be mostly dry. Some light snow may also fall during the weekend.