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State of emergency for parts of western New York is declared ahead of a major storm

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Life in western New York is at a standstill this morning. Highways are closed. Flights are canceled. Kids are home from school because this weekend's snowstorm is forecast to be extreme even for Buffalo. Here's Emyle Watkins from our member station WBFO.

EMYLE WATKINS, BYLINE: Shelves were barren Thursday night at this north Buffalo Target. Milk, juice and bread were all wiped out. There's an old saying from former Mayor Jimmy Griffin about snowstorms. Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game. Many were certainly planning on that, as the Sunday Buffalo Bills game got moved to Detroit. Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz pleaded with people.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK POLONCARZ: Please stay home.

WATKINS: Buffalo has learned a lesson about staying home. Eight years ago this week, another severe storm, called winter storm Knife, buried suburbs south of Buffalo in 88 inches of snow. Buildings collapsed. Fourteen people died. The breadth of this storm is expected to be twice that of the one in 2014.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POLONCARZ: One of the things that happened eight years ago is it did not affect all of Erie County. This one is going to affect all of Erie County.

WATKINS: The storm is expected to sweep up the lake and through the Buffalo metro area on Friday, dropping more than 3 inches of snow an hour. On Saturday, it will hit the northern suburbs and Niagara Falls, then rebound south as it dies out on Sunday. Poloncarz gave a stern warning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POLONCARZ: You are an obstacle to our plow trucks when you're on the road. And when you get on the road and you get stuck, our plows can't get past you.

WATKINS: The National Weather Service predicts the storm will rank as extreme. That's the most dangerous ranking on the severity index. County officials are calling it winter storm That IPA. And yes, it's named after a local beer. Former Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin, who advised people to hunker down with a beer during a storm, would approve.

For NPR News, I'm Emyle Watkins in Buffalo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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