- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A blizzard warning was issued Thursday for areas of upstate New York along the Lake Ontario shore as arctic air and wind gusts approaching 70 mph threatened the region with dangerous cold.

Blizzard warnings were in effect until 1 a.m. Friday for an area stretching along the lake’s south shore, from just east of Rochester to Oswego, the National Weather Service said. Forecasters said lake-effect snow was being accompanied by wind of 30 mph to 50 mph, with gusts topping 60 mph, causing whiteout conditions in some places.

Storms that began Wednesday dumped a foot of snow on parts of the Buffalo area, where dozens of schools south and east of the city canceled classes Thursday.

In downtown Buffalo, city and Erie County workers returned to work Thursday after many were allowed to head home early Wednesday to get a head start on a dangerous evening commute that was slowed to a crawl by blinding, wind-blown snow.

City students waited for buses on snowy curbs Thursday morning, bundled against temperatures in the low teens and buffeted by icy winds. Morning sunshine was forecast to give way in the afternoon to another round of wind-blown snow.

Lake-effect storms blowing off of lakes Erie and Ontario have dumped about 12 inches of snow so far in the Buffalo area and up to 18 inches in the Tug Hill region north of Syracuse. Forecasters say several more inches are expected by Friday morning.

Meteorologists say dangerous wind chill forecasts of 20 below to 30 below are predicted for some upstate areas, with wind gusts of 56 mph to 64 mph recorded Thursday along Lake Erie’s eastern end. A gust of 68 mph was recorded in Oswego, the weather service said.

Blowing snow slowed the morning commute into Syracuse on Interstate 81 to a crawl. Commuter Dawn Coyer, who lives north of Syracuse, was riding with a companion when they decided to exit the highway until conditions improved.

“It doesn’t bother me as long as I go slow,” she told Time Warner Cable News. “But I wasn’t driving and she said no, we’re not doing this, which is the first time we’ve ever done that.”

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