BUFFALO, N.Y. — The City of Buffalo has issued a State of Emergency ahead of the winter storm forecast for this weekend.
The State of Emergency goes into effect beginning at 7 a.m. Friday.
"The State of Emergency means that people should exercise caution. It's a very dangerous storm. If you don't have to be on the roads, if you are not an essential worker, please do not drive on Friday and Saturday. We want people to stay home. We keep hearing that this is a potentially life-threatening storm," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
The National Weather Service in Buffalo issued a Blizzard Warning for Niagara, Orleans, Erie, including Buffalo, and Genesee counties from 7 a.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Sunday.
Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate very quickly, starting with rain in the morning and then temperatures dropping rapidly around noon causing a flash freeze. High winds will also cause blowing snow and possible white out conditions.
RELATED STORY: Blizzard Warning issued for parts of WNY
"As Buffalo residents, we are used to winter weather, and often take it in stride. But, forecasters say this storm is not our typical storm. So, please don't expect four-five inches and be complaining about driving and plowing. This is not going to be a typical storm. This could be a life threatening storm. Please take it seriously," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
The city is asking residents to be cautious and responsible, and to finish up any errands or shopping by Thursday. They are also asking folks to stay off the roads beginning tonight, and stay home, unless they are essential workers.
The mayor also announced Buffalo City Hall will be closed on Friday. All essential personnel will still report to work as scheduled.
"We want people to stay home. We keep hearing that this is a potentially life-threatening storm. We do not want to lose lives during this storm. We want people to follow the guidance. Stay home," said Mayor Brown.
The city crews clearing roadways will be facing the challenge of of high winds causing near white out conditions for an extended period of time.
"This is a very significant and serious storm, life-threatening conditions," said Nate Marton, Department of Public Works Commissioner. "Please do not be on the road... we will have our crews, parks department, engineering, streets, obviously number one, will be working our streets.
The city has cancelled garbage and recycling pick up for Friday, Dec. 23. Those that get their garbage picked up on Friday will now have it picked up on Monday, Dec. 26 and the rest of the schedule will be delayed one day.
One of the main concerns with this story is power outages. The high winds are expected to cause power outages across our area.
National Grid says safety is their top priority and crews will be ready. "By the end of today, we will have, statewide, around 2,800 crew members, some of who we are bringing in from Texas, Tennessee and other states to help us so we can help you, says National Grid spokesperson Dave Bertola.
The city also announced Wednesday that Buffalo's four waterfront parks will be closed to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicular traffic beginning on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m.
The four parks include, Ralph Wilson Park, Bird Island Pier, Broderick Park and Erie Basin Marina.
The high winds forecast for Friday could create severe flooding issues.
The city is also closing its two indoor pools, Cazenovia and Lovejoy, on Friday, Dec. 23.
City residents can sign up for BUFFALERT for information of snow emergencies and other public service announcements in Buffalo. To sign for BUFFALERT, text your zip code to 38276.
Other municipalities that issued a State of Emergency include the Town of Tonawanda and Lancaster.
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