© Harry Scull Jr. , AP
John Dowl waits for roadside assistance after going off the 219 in Springville, N.Y., on Nov. 17, 2014.
Parts of New York are measuring the season's first big snowfall in feet, rather than inches, as nearly 3 feet blanketed the Buffalo area Tuesday
, forcing the closure of a 105-mile stretch of the state Thruway.
The Thruway Authority says white-out conditions have closed Interstate 90 in both directions Tuesday morning from the Rochester area to Dunkirk, on Lake Erie, 35 southwest of Buffalo. The National Weather Service says a foot to almost 3 feet of snow has fallen on areas south and east of the city.
Other major highways in the area are closed, numerous schools have canceled classes and Buffalo officials have issued a driving ban for parts of the city. Before the storm hit Monday evening, the National Weather Service warned that snow off the Great Lakes could pile more than two feet high around Buffalo and across the Tug Hill region north of Syracuse through Wednesday afternoon. Winds gusting more than 30 mph were making travel impossible along the Thruway. Similar conditions were expected later Tuesday and into Wednesday along Interstate 81 between Syracuse and the Canadian border.
The highest snowfall total early Tuesday was just under 3 feet in Elma, just east of Buffalo, according to weather service meteorologist Tony Ansuini. The storm was dumping 3 to 4 inches of snow per hour
, he said.