The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning for Northern Erie County that includes metro Buffalo. The warning is posted until 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Travel in the warning area is hazardous, with whiteout conditions. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has issued a Travel Advisory for northern Erie County.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Welch tells WBFO News strong winds will be kicking up snow causing significant blowing and drifting snow and creating zero visibility at times.
"We are expecting winds up to 45 miles per hour, which meets the blizzard criteria, so reduce visibility through that time primarily from blowing snow on the ground," Welch explained.
One to three inches of new snow is expected.
"The snowfall itself is not the major part of the Blizzard Warning. It's more the blowing snow that's already on the ground," Welch noted.
There was a major crash along the mainline Thruway near Depew. According to the Lancaster Office of Emergency Management, the chain-reaction involved as many as 75 vehicles. Trooper Michael Cassella in Albany said 15-25 cars and 10 tractor-trailers were involved in a series of collisions starting shortly before 2 p.m.
The New York State Thruway Authority said all lanes of the eastbound mainline Thruway between Depew to Pembroke are closed because of the crashes between Exit 48A (Route 77) and Exit 49 (Transit Road).
Eastbound Thruway traffic is backed up past the William Street exit, according to the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC). Late in the day Tuesday, state police confirmed one person has died and another person had been severely injured.
The Buffalo Police Department shut down the Skyway in both directions earlier Tuesday due to poor visibility.
"If you do have to travel, give yourself plenty of extra time and plenty of extra room between you and other vehicles," recommended Welch.
Welch noted to watch for shelter areas of roadways that can rapidly change from the blowing and drifting snow. Northern Erie County covers areas north of East Aurora and Blasdell.
The Skyway remains closed in both directions and there is heavy congestion on South Park Avenue. The Buffalo Police Department advises that alternate routes be used.
The city of Buffalo has also closed City Hall for the remainder of the business day. City Hall shut down at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday due to the Blizzard Warning.