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Heavy snow strands New York drivers for over 12 hours

From Angela Fritz, CNN Meteorologist
    -- Lake effect snow has shut down Interstate 90 in Buffalo-- Water and gasoline are being delivered to vehicles in need-- Some areas will see snow accumulate to 3 feet by Friday morning

(CNN) -- Heavy snow has shut down Interstate 90 near Buffalo, New York, leaving motorists stranded for more than 12 hours as of Thursday morning, with more snow on the way.

Shifting winds from the storm front that is moving through the eastern United States this week have put the city of Buffalo in the path of a lake effect snow band that forecasters said covered some areas with as much as 24 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Sam McMahon, who has been trapped on the interstate since 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, told CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf that while he has seen snow like this before, there is something unique about this storm.

"In terms of snowfall, I have seen snowfall like this before but I have never been stuck in a situation like this on the thruway this extreme," he said. The University of Buffalo student was heading home Wednesday evening and when he hit slow traffic. "By 9 o'clock we were stopped," he said. "Since 9:30 last night I haven't moved an inch."

Authorities are trying to keep the stranded motorists warm and hydrated. Officers and firefighters have been delivering water and gasoline to vehicles in need throughout the morning hours.

Lake effect snow warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service for areas on the eastern ends of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. "In lake effect snow the weather can vary from locally heavy snow in narrow bands to clear skies just a few miles away," the advisories said, warning travelers to be prepared for rapidly changing conditions.

Forecasters said an additional 10 to 14 inches of snow is likely from "the most persistent bands" over the city of Buffalo through 11 p.m., adding up to a total accumulation of around 3 feet at the deepest.

Another band is expected to drop 10 to 14 inches of snow south of the city through 6 a.m. Friday, with a total accumulation of up to 2 feet in those areas, the National Weather Service said.

"The heavy wet nature of the snow will bring down some tree limbs and produce scattered power outages," it said.

On the eastern end of Lake Ontario, Oswego, Jefferson, and Lewis counties were told to expect additional snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches through 6 a.m. Friday, making a total accumulation of up to 18 inches from the storm in isolated areas.

The Weather Service is warning that the rate of snowfall, up to 2 inches per hour, will make travel extremely difficult. Roads will be snow covered and visibility will be severely reduced.