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Fox News Weather Center

Feet of Lake-Effect Snow to Bury Communities Around Great Lakes

The coldest air of the season so far will trigger bands of heavy snow downwind of the Great Lakes into the middle of the week and beyond.

The snow will be blinding in some areas, falling at the rate of 3-5 inches per hour, and can be accompanied by gusty winds, thunder and lightning.

Travel may be impossible for a time in the heaviest bands of snow.

According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "This will be a very nasty lake-effect event in Buffalo and the nearby south towns with blizzard conditions possible."

"A section of the New York Thruway may close near Buffalo," Abrams said.

The intense bands of lake-effect snow and squalls have the potential to shut down travel not only in the Interstate-90 corridor in western New York state, but also along the same highway in northwestern Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio, I-81 in northern upstate New York and the I-196 corridor in western lower Michigan.

More than a foot of snow will fall in the shifting bands of intense lake effect. Where these bands persist, between 2 and 3 feet of snow can fall.

"People traveling from Cleveland to Boston may want to take a more southern route such as I-80 to I-95, as it will better to have a longer trip rather than risk getting stranded by taking a more direct route along lakes Erie and Ontario," Abrams said.

Motorists should exercise caution when traveling over the high ground in western Pennsylvania. While the snow will be less intense in this area, there can be slippery travel and a sudden reduction in visibility.

The weather may dictate frequent shoveling and plowing operations to avoid travel difficulties later. Plunging temperatures, in some cases to the single digits and teens, will cause wet and slushy areas to freeze.

In addition to bringing record cold to the South, the air will become cold enough with gusty winds to raise the risk for frostbite and hypothermia for those not properly dressed in the Midwest and Northeast.

If you must travel from the Upper Midwest to areas downwind of the lower Great Lakes, make sure you have warm blankets and clothing in case you get stuck.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis, "Although there is often some lake-effect snow in November, it is uncommon to get such a prolonged lake-effect event this early in the season."

Shifting bands of lake-effect snow will continue through midweek as the frigid air flows through and may resume again later this week as another push of cold air brushes past the Great Lakes.

It will not be until later this weekend, when the atmosphere will warm up enough to turn off the lake-effect snow machine.