As the Western New York area braces for its first major winter weather event of the year, residents are urged to start preparing. 

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The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Erie, Genesee, and Wyoming counties beginning Saturday at 10am through 7am Monday, with blizzard conditions throughout the weekend. Forecasts are currently calling for snow accumulations of 1 to 3 feet in the most persistent bands, along with wind gusts as high as 65mph.

This snow storm couldn’t come at a worse time, considering the thousands of residents that were planning to attend the massive Buffalo Bills playoff game at Highmark Stadium. It’s not necessarily the snow total that’s a concern (we’ve seen worse), it’s the wind. The predicted massive gusts will cause blowing snow and severely reduce visibility on the roads, and the NWS is saying travel throughout Western New York will be “very difficult to impossible” at times. 

The severe weather led to the highly anticipated home game to be pushed to Monday at 4:30pm, and Erie County enforcing a travel ban beginning at 9pm on Saturday night.

Only Essential Workers Allowed On The Roads During A Travel Ban

Unless you are deemed “essential,” it is against the law to be on the roads during a travel ban in Erie County, no matter the circumstance. Yes, this includes having tickets to the Buffalo Bills game. Drivers who are found on the roads during a travel ban that aren’t regarded as essential could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and a $500 fine.

The goal of a travel ban is to keep the roads clear to prevent blockages for emergency and utility vehicles.

As explained by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, 

“The problem is magnified when you have vehicles on the roads that shouldn’t be there and then block the ability of public works and utility trucks to get down and try to fix what is down.”

Erie County Clarifies Who Are Essential Workers

Recently, Erie Country created the Essential Employee Exemption Portal to determine who and who isn’t allowed to be on the road during a travel ban. The portal divides workers into a 3-tiered system, and only certain types of businesses are considered to be essential.

In order to qualify for the travel exemption, organizations need to fill out a form and submit it to Erie County. 

According to the portal, here are the types of jobs that Erie County considers “essential workers,” and will be the ONLY ones allowed on the roads if there’s a travel ban in place. 

LIST: Workers Considered Essential In Erie County, New York

According to WIVB, here are the categories that Erie County views as essential and eligible to apply to drive during a travel ban.

Gallery Credit: Getty Images/Canva

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