Heavy lake-effect snows crisscrossed the region Wednesday, causing widespread traffic migraines in many communities. Strong winds created whiteout conditions.
The Skyway was closed in both directions as of Wednesday afternoon and traffic was snarled in downtown Buffalo at Church Street near the Skyway entrance.
Police reported numerous accidents and some school buses were running late.
Traffic was snarled as many business and government offices sent workers home early. City Hall shut down at 1:45 p.m. Erie County also allowed non-essential county employees to leave early due to dangerous weather conditions.
Traffic was also at a near-standstill on some stretches of the Thruway and on other major thoroughfares.
WBFO's Mike McKay was traveling in the downtown area Wednesday afternoon in the difficult conditions.
"Total gridlock as folks try to leave downtown offices early," said McKay.
Mayor Byron Brown said early in the day City Hall is monitoring the storm. Deputy Public Works Commissioner Henry Jackson said the storm is expected to be a short event and should wind down around 8 p.m. Jackson said crews began salting roads and bridges hours ahead of the storm.
"After the snow goes south, we'll begin the cleanup," Jackson said.
Brown said the city is working closely with other municipalities and the business community and said his office would be communicating with Erie County, the Thruway Authority and the state DOT to help coordinate storm response.
"We will be doing everything that, humanly, can be done to make sure that people are safe," Brown said.
Buffalo's wintry ordeal was once again red-flagged in the national arena. CBS Evening News aired video of the storm on Wednesday night's program.