Significant flight delays and cancelations (over 60 percent of departing and arriving flights) have been reported at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) on Wednesday, January 30, due to severe winter weather, including heavy lake-effect snowfall. Erie county has declared a state of emergency and a travel ban is in effect for the towns of Elma, Orchard Park, Hamburg, Eden, Brant, North Collins, Evans, Alden, Aurora, and Marilla. Authorities have instructed all vehicles in these areas to leave the roads.
Blizzard warnings are in effect for the following New York state counties: Erie, Wyoming, and Genesee until 01:00 (local time) on Thursday, January 31, due to lake-effect snow coming off Lake Erie; further north, blizzard warnings are also in effect for Jefferson and Lewis counties until 01:00 on Thursday for lake-effect snow coming off Lake Ontario. Snow accumulations of 13-25 cm (5-10 in) are forecast for the Buffalo area; Jefferson and Lewis counties are forecast to receive 0.9-1.2 m (3-4 ft) of lake-effect snowfall in the most intense bands. Extremely cold wind chills ranging from -34°C (-30°F) to -32°C (-25°F) are forecast in affected areas through Thursday evening.
Severe transportation disruptions (including flight delays and cancelations and due to hazardous road conditions) are to be expected in affected areas.
The extreme temperatures are caused by low-pressure system of arctic air that sometimes travels south, in an event commonly known as a "polar vortex." On January 30, officials recorded lows of -30°C (-23°F) in Chicago (Illinois) and -34°C (-30°F) in La Crosse (Wisconsin), nearing or breaking record-low temperature readings, while wind chills in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota dipped as low as -54°C (-66°F).
Individuals in the Buffalo area and elsewhere in Upstate New York are advised to monitor local weather reports, confirm flight reservations, anticipate transportation disruptions (e.g. flight delays and cancelations, icy roads, limited visibility), refrain from unnecessary travel, and keep sufficient food, water, and warm clothing if driving.
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