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Upstate New York braces for "dangerous," slow-moving snowstorm

Western New York braces for lake-effect snowstorm
Western New York braces for lake-effect snowstorm 01:11

The city of Buffalo and other parts of upstate New York are preparing for a major storm that could dump several feet of snow on the region beginning Thursday and into the weekend. 

The Buffalo Bills were scheduled to play a home game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon, but announced Thursday that the game would be relocated to Detroit "out of an abundance of caution."   

Buffalo has already declared a snow day for public schools on Friday.   

According to the National Weather Service, which issued a lake effect snow warning lasting from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon, the area can expect total snow accumulations between two and four feet, with the heaviest snow expected Thursday evening into Friday night. 

The NWS warned of wind gusts reaching 35 miles per hour, which could produce "patchy blowing snow." Lake effect snow describes what happens when cold air, often coming from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes region, according to the NWS. 

A forecast for the Buffalo area warned that the city could see two to three inches of snow per hour on Thursday night. People have also been warned to expect possible power outages due to the high winds.  

It's early in the year for a storm of this magnitude, according to CBS affiliate WVIB, but local officials say they are prepared for the wintry conditions, with dozens of plow trucks and drivers ready to hit the roads. 

"We are prepared. We know what it's like to deal with snow in the winter," Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said in a news conference earlier this week, noting that the last time the region saw a multi-foot snowfall in their first storm of the year was in 2014. 

State and local officials cautioned people against unnecessary travel during the storm. Commercial vehicles have already been banned on some roads, and a travel advisory is currently in effect, according to WVIB. New York governor Kathy Hochul has already declared a state of emergency for the area, and warned that people need to be ready for "dangerous travel conditions." The state of New York has provided additional resources to supplement local agencies. 

"My administration has been preparing around the clock for this potentially life-threatening weather event, bringing in additional safety personnel and equipment, closing down the New York State Thruway, and activating Emergency Operation Centers," Hochul said in a statement. "I urge all New Yorkers to stay prepared and vigilant over the next few days, making sure to look after vulnerable loved ones and neighbors."

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