BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged people to stay off western New York roads Wednesday as authorities dealt with an arctic blast that caused whiteout conditions and was expected to create dangerously low windchills.
“Stay off the roads. Let the plows do their work,” he said while joining state and local officials for a news conference at a state Department of Transportation facility in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga.
Cuomo said there was already 11 inches of snow on the ground by late morning, with up to 2 feet expected by the time the storm ends. High winds and plunging temperatures will create dangerous conditions that “should not be taken lightly,” he said.
Travel bans for tractor-trailers and buses remained in effect for several western New York highways. Those vehicles were also banned from traveling on the northern stretch of Interstate 81 from I-90 at Syracuse to the Canadian border starting at noon Wednesday, Cuomo said.
Erie County officials said crews responded to accidents overnight and Wednesday. WKBW-TV in Buffalo reported some truckers ignored the tractor-trailer ban on major highways. But others were on board with it.
A blast of wind on the highway could “turn you sideways or flip the truck completely over,” trucker Steve Lorber said.
Winds gusting to 35 mph will make it feel like 20 to 30 below zero on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
The storm will affect all of upstate New York, but downstate areas won’t be hit as bad, allowing officials to deploy snowplows from the New York City region if needed, Cuomo said.