Snow that began falling Thursday evening in the Niagara Region is expected, Environment Canada says, to result in a “prolonged period of significant lake effect snow squalls off Lake Erie” to continue all weekend.
The weather agency issued a snow squall watch early Friday morning for Niagara Falls, Welland and Southern Niagara Region. The warning says that “significant lake effect snow squalls [are] expected beginning early this evening” and “local snowfall amounts of 30 to 60 cm for the Fort Erie area” are on their way.
Environment Canada warns travellers that “visibilities may be reduced to near zero in heavy snow and local blowing snow.”
Be careful out there.
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The governor of New York state has declared a state of emergency for several counties in anticipation of a weekend storm.
“The most significant snowfall is expected Thursday and Friday, with accumulations of up to four feet [1.2 metres] of snow possible 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 place until 1 a.m. Saturday. A winter storm watch is in effect from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon. Between 60 and 120 centimetres of snow are expected to fall this weekend in southern Erie County. The Weather Prediction Center described it as a “potentially historic snowfall for Buffalo, N.Y.”
A travel ban put in place Thursday night for Erie County was lifted, Buffalo police said in a tweet just after 8 a.m.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is reporting many delays and cancellations among 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 hardest.
Environment Canada says people should make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight.
Schools are open in Fort Erie and across Niagara Region
Public schools in Niagara are open.
- The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) says that transportation for Fort Erie schools is cancelled. Transportation is cancelled for Garrison Road, John Brant, Peace Bridge, Stevensville and Greater Fort Erie Secondary School. If your child is staying home, the board asks that you please report their absence.
- Catholic schools are open but student transportation is cancelled for schools in Fort Erie.
Organizers of the Fort Erie Santa Claus parade, which was set for Saturday, sent a note to participants Thursday saying the event has been cancelled, as recommended by the town’s roads department.
“They are not able to accommodate a safe environment for the roads and patrons,” the note read. “There are no available weekends to reschedule the parade due to availability of bands/entertainment due to other scheduled parades/events.”
Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop told CBC on Thursday afternoon that it could take three or four days to clear the city, depending on the severity of the storm, but that’s something the town has managed many times before.
“We want to make sure that residents appreciate that if we do get the storm that’s anticipated, that they don’t try to go places that they don’t need to be because it’s safer to make sure that you’re at home, you’ve got the resources that you need and that your family is safe,” Redekop said.