Empty trailer ban on New York State Thruway canceled as blizzard eases (with forecast video)

Tractor-trailers on snowy road.

A blizzard hit areas from Cleveland, Ohio to parts of northern New England on Thursday. Ahead of the storm on Wednesday evening, the New York State Thruway Authority announced a ban on empty trailers on I-90 in the western part of the state, anticipating some of the worst conditions would hit this area. The ban has expired.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Friday, Feb. 28, 2020; Heavy lake effect snow

Because of the storm, truckers were not allowed to “deadhead,” or haul empty trailers, from the Pennsylvania border to just south of Buffalo. The Thruway Authority ended the ban just after midnight this morning as conditions began improving a bit along the 65-mile stretch of highway where the ban took place. However, snow and wind will persist there, and in other parts of the interior Northeast into the weekend.

As of 9 a.m. EST today, Copenhagen, New York, about 15 miles east of Watertown, had received a whopping 28.5 inches of snowfall. This was the highest amount reported in the region covered by the National Weather Service office in Buffalo. Parts of Watertown, along I-81, have received 11 to 17 inches of snowfall, but the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (ICAO code: BUF) only got 1 inch. Much of the heavy snow has been inland of the lakeshore communities.

The Watertown International Airport (ICAO code: ART) recorded one of the strongest wind gusts during yesterday’s storm – 60 mph. Whiteout conditions were reported in Watertown and other parts of western and upstate New York, including Oswego and several smaller towns.

The worst of this blizzard is history for most of the interior Northeast as the center of the storm keeps moving into eastern Canada. However, there’s plenty of cold northwesterly winds flowing over the relatively warmer waters of lakes Erie and Ontario. This will create a steady stream of lingering lake effect snowfall today from northeastern Ohio to upstate New York, along I-81, I-86 and I-90.

Oswego and Watertown – north of the empty trailer ban area – remain under a blizzard warning and could get an additional 8 to 16 inches of snowfall today, with wind gusts of 40 to 45 mph; Jamestown, Orchard Park and the western Adirondacks could see another 12 inches, with gusts of 35 to 40 mph. Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania may get another 5 to 10 inches with gusty winds. Whiteout conditions are likely at times. Winds could knock down tree limbs and utility lines, resulting in potential power outages and roadblocks. Some of the areas mentioned could get hit with more snow and wind on Saturday.

Other weekend weather

Snow will return to the Cascades, Rockies and Sierra Nevada as well as the Sierra Madre in south-central Wyoming this weekend, starting tonight in some areas.

Up to 12 inches could pile up in parts of the Washington Cascades and Sierra Madre. Snowqualmie and Stevens passes could become trouble spots for drivers, as well as mountain passes in the Sierra Madre where wind gusts could reach 35 to 40 mph. Periods of heavy snowfall could also hit Lookout Pass on the Idaho-Montana border.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!