"Intense" was the word most often used to describe Wednesday afternoon's snowfall.
According to National Weather Service of Buffalo Meteorologist David Thomas, up to 4 inches per hour fell in the heart of the snow band along the Lake Erie shore. He added residents and motorists should prepare for more snow today and over the weekend.
Areas most affected Wednesday were in northern Chautauqua, northern Cattaraugus and Southern Erie counties.
OBSERVER Photo by Daniel Kohler
Slippery road conditions led to this accident on Chautauqua Road at Route 20 Wednesday at 8 a.m.
The heavy snowfall and limited visibility prompted the Thruway to be closed between 4:15 and 5:30 p.m. and travel bans to be put in place in the city of Dunkirk and the villages of Fredonia and North Collins.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard reported poor weather conditions made travel extremely hazardous in Erie County south of Route 20A. Howard advised only necessary travel and suggested motorists check weather conditions and media forecasts prior to traveling.
Dunkirk Police reported several accidents Wednesday around 3:30 p.m. and said more were being reported as the snow continued to fall.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office also had multiple reports of accidents in the towns of Hanover and Sheridan.
Fredonia Police reported the only weather-related accident occurred at 8 a.m. at the intersection of Chautauqua Road and Route 20. One vehicle stopped at the stop sign on Chautauqua Road and a second car, attempting to stop, slid into the first car. There were no injuries, no charges and neither car needed to be towed from the scene.
Fredonia Police Sgt. Phillip Maslak told drivers to be cautious in winter weather conditions, drive slower than normal and take extra time to get places. He also said drivers should clean off front and back windows.
Gowanda, Forestville and Silver Creek schools were closed and after school activities as well as many municipal meetings were canceled or postponed. The Fredonia Excel project informational meeting has been rescheduled for today at 7 p.m. in the high school library. The Pomfret Town Board meeting was rescheduled for Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall. The Silver Creek Board of Education meeting, which was canceled, has not yet been rescheduled.
SUNY Fredonia classes and events were also canceled Wednesday evening. The Fredonia Chamber Orchestra Fall Concert featuring soprano Danielle Beckvermit is rescheduled for tonight at 8 p.m. in Mason Hall Rosch Recital Hall. This event is free and open to the public.
Thomas warned that more snow is on the way.
"The lake effect snow warning runs through 4 a.m. (today), however the lake effect snow will continue throughout the day (today)," he said. "We expect the band to reintensify along the southern tier in the morning and move northward to southern Erie County by the afternoon. After (today) snow is expected to continue through the weekend. We expect several more inches."
He said the expected storm total for Dunkirk from 1 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Friday is 24 to 30 inches.