Winter came back to Western New York with a vengeance Thursday. Gusty winds downed trees and power lines and dropped temperatures more than 40 degrees from the record high of 66 set on Wednesday.
The second half of the arctic one-two punch – lake-effect snow – began Thursday in the Southern Tier and is expected to spread over most of the region today. How heavy it will be depends on where you are. The National Weather Service issued a variety of snow advisories Thursday afternoon.
For northern Erie and Genesee counties, there was a lake-effect snow watch from early this evening to late Saturday evening, with the potential for 6 inches of snow where the heaviest snow bands set up.
For Orleans County, there was a lake-effect snow advisory from Thursday evening to 6 p.m. today, promising 2 to 4 inches overnight and 3 to 5 inches today.
The rest of the region, except for Niagara County, is under a lake-effect snow warning until 6 p.m. today. In Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, accumulations of 7 to 14 inches were predicted overnight, with 5 to 10 more inches today. In southern Erie and Wyoming counties, snowfall of 7 to 13 inches was expected overnight, with another 5 to 9 inches today.
The only area to essentially escape the snow, forecasters say, will be Niagara County. Only an inch or two was due overnight, with another inch or two today.
Combined with 20 to 30 mph winds, the snow is expected to create numerous whiteouts and considerable drifting. Travel is likely to be treacherous throughout most of the region.
The potential for snow and blustery conditions will continue through Sunday, forecasters said Thursday night. Temperatures are expected to drop into the teens tonight and stay mostly in the teens on Saturday, with wind chills near zero.
Intense snow already was causing problems Thursday afternoon. The Thruway was closed for a while west of Ripley and many after-school activities and evening events were canceled throughout southern Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
Earlier, the biggest problem was the wind, which caused scattered power outages that left about 2,000 customers in the dark throughout the region.
The strongest gust was 63 mph at 4 a.m. at the Dunkirk lighthouse, according the National Weather Service. A gust of 59 mph was measured at 4:14 a.m. at the Weather Service office at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga. Temperatures fell from 50 shortly after midnight Thursday to 32 at 6 a.m. and 23 by mid-evening.
The winds caused a tractor-trailer to jackknife on Route 60 in Gerry about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Chautauqua County sheriff’s officials said, leaving the highway reduced to a single lane for about two hours. No injuries were reported and no charges were filed.
The wind also was blamed for collapsing a barn on Lindberg Road north of Ellicottville.
Trees were reported down everywhere. A large tree fell at the intersection of Routes 5 and 77 in Pembroke, a National Weather Service staffer reported.
A tree fell on a house in Buffalo, police reported.
News Staff Reporter Maki Becker contributed to this report. email: email@example.com