Niagara region braces for ‘significant’ snowfall, N.Y. governor declares state of emergency

Snow that began falling Thursday evening in the Niagara Region is expected to continue, Environment Canada says, leading to “a prolonged period of significant lake effect snow from Lake Erie” through the weekend.

The weather agency issued a snow squall watch early Friday morning for Niagara Falls, Welland and the Southern Niagara Region. The warning says that “there is a significant effect lake snow squalls [are] expected beginning early this evening” and “local snow amounts of 30 to 60 cm for the Fort Erie area” on their way.

Environment Canada warns travelers that “visibilities could be reduced to near zero in heavy snow and locally blowing snow.”

The governor of New York state has also declared a state of emergency for several counties in anticipation of a weekend storm.

“The most significant snowfall is expected on Thursday and Friday, with accumulations of up to four feet [1.2 metres] possible snow in the Buffalo area,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Thursday.

The National Weather Service in the United States issued a “lake effect snow warning” early Friday morning that remains in effect until 1 a.m. Saturday. A winter storm watch is in effect from Saturday evening to Sunday evening. Between 60 and 120 centimeters of snow is expected to fall this weekend in southern Erie County. The Weather Prediction Center described it as “a potentially historic snowfall for Buffalo, NY”

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A travel advisory is in effect, as of 8 a.m., for the city of Buffalo and the towns of Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Holland, North Collins and Sardinia, according to Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. In a release he said “The city of Tonawanda and the towns of Amherst, Clarence, Newstead and Grand Island were placed under a travel advisory as of 6 a.m. this morning.”

He told CBC News “If things go well, even if we get a lot of snow, hopefully we’ll be able to clear it up and get [it] from now on, so that normal business is happening on Monday. But we will have to wait and see. We’ll see what Mother Nature throws at us.”

A travel ban remains in effect for the rest of Erie County.
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Buffalo Niagara International Airport is reporting many delays and cancellations in both arrivals and departures.

Meanwhile, back on the Canadian side of the border, the first winter storm of the season is expected to hit Fort Erie the hardest.

Environment Canada says people should make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, first aid kit and a flashlight.

Schools are open in Fort Erie and throughout the Niagara Region

Public schools in Niagara are open.

  • The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) says transportation for Fort Erie schools has been canceled. Transportation has been canceled for Garrison Road, John Brant, Peace Bridge, Stevensville and Greater Fort Erie Middle School. If your child is staying at home, the board asks you to report their absence.
  • Catholic schools are open but student transport has been canceled for schools in Fort Erie.
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Organizers of the Fort Erie Santa Claus parade, set for Saturday, sent a note to participants Thursday saying the event has been canceled, as recommended by the town’s road department.

“They are unable to provide a safe environment for the roads and the patrons,” the note read. “There are no weekends available to reschedule the parade due to band/entertainment availability due to other scheduled parades/events.”

Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop told CBC Thursday afternoon that it could take three to four days to clean up the city, depending on the intensity of the storm, but that’s something the town has done many times before.

“We want to make sure the residents understand that if we get the storm that’s expected, they don’t try to go places they don’t need to be because it’s safer to make sure you’re home. ‘that you have the resources you need and that your family is safe,’ said Redekop.


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