Up to 4 feet of lake-effect snow forecast for Buffalo, New York

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Western New York is bracing for a “significant” lake-effect snowstorm that could dump up to 4 feet of snow in the Buffalo region over the coming days.

A lake-effect snow warning is in effect starting 7 p.m. Wednesday through 1 a.m. Saturday for southern Erie County.

The long-duration event is also expected in the east and southeast Great Lakes region, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Up to 4 feet of snow is possible for the region by Saturday morning. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph are also forecast.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the National Weather Service in Buffalo warned. “The hazardous conditions will impact the commutes from Thursday morning through Friday evening.”

Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are forecast for the Thursday morning commute.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she plans to issue a state of emergency that will into effect Thursday morning and will deploy emergency response assets ahead of the storm.

“Hazardous travel conditions and local power outages as a result of the storm are likely due to the combination of snow, ice and wind in the forecast,” her office said in a statement Wednesday.

Parts of the New York State Thruway will also be closed to commercial traffic starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, she said.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz advised private businesses and schools to close on Friday if the forecast holds.

“We are gonna have a doozy,” he said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

Lake-effect snow is common in the late fall and early winter along the downwind shores of the Great Lakes, which is caused by cold air flowing over the warmer waters of the Great Lakes.

In November 2014, more than 5 feet of lake-effect snow fell just east of Buffalo, in what was one of the most significant winter events in the city’s history, according to the National Weather Service. A second lake-effect event days later dropped another 1 to 4 feet of snow in the same area, bringing the total from the two storms to nearly 7 feet, it said.

Beyond Buffalo, snow is also expected over upper New England on Wednesday, with winter weather advisories issued for the area.

Upstate New York, northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are expected to see more than 3 inches of fresh snow, with more than 6 inches expected in northern Maine. More than a foot is possible along the Canadian border in Maine.

ABC News’ Kenton Gewecke and Brian Hartman contributed to this report.

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