Snow, wind close roads, schools; cap bitter week in Buffalo

AP News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 5:03 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Lake-effect snow closed roads and schools in and around northern New York Friday, and police were investigating whether a man whose frozen body was found in Buffalo died from the frigid temperatures and below-zero wind chills.

Friday's snow off of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario came with wind gusts of more than 40 mph, trapping commuters in whiteout conditions and forcing the closure of several major roadways. The bitterly cold, windy weather was forecast to continue through Saturday. The man's frozen body was found Thursday a business on the Buffalo's east side. Police said they didn't suspect foul play.

A 132-mile stretch of the New York Thruway from outside Rochester west to the Pennsylvania border was closed from midnight Thursday through the Friday morning rush hour. It reopened to essential travel between Rochester and Buffalo at 1 p.m. but the nearly 70-mile stretch along Lake Erie's eastern shore between Buffalo and Pennsylvania remained closed as forecasters warned of 2-to 3-foot snow totals south of Buffalo through Saturday.

"We'd love to have things back to normal as soon as possible," Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul said at a news conference. "We just can't control Mother Nature."

The city of Buffalo received a quick 7 ½ inches in the early morning, leading Mayor Byron Brown to delay the opening of City Hall by an hour. Erie County offices opened 90 minutes late.

Areas east of Lake Ontario, including typically hard-hit Watertown, were bracing for 3 to 5 feet of blowing snow by Saturday.