BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Parts of New York are expecting to measure the season's first big snowfall in feet, rather than inches.


Snow on early Tuesday morning in Buffalo (WKBW TV)

More than a month before the arrival of winter, the National Weather Service warned that snow off the Great Lakes could pile more than two feet high around Buffalo and across the Tug Hill region north of Syracuse through Wednesday afternoon.

Forecasters said snow could fall at a rate of five inches per hour in spots, and that wind gusts of up to 45 mph had the potential to make travel nearly impossible along sections of the New York State Thruway and Interstate 81.

Along the Lake Erie shore, city officials said Buffalo was prepared with eight new pieces in its 75-vehicle snow-fighting fleet, along with 4,000 tons of salt on hand and 7,000 tons in reserve.

"Our fleet is in good shape," Streets Commissioner Steven Stepniak told reporters Monday ahead of the snow. "It's in the best shape it's been."

School administrators, meanwhile, were waiting to see where the hard-to-predict lake bands would strike before canceling Tuesday classes.

The Tug Hill region on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario, notorious for its yearly snow totals, was bracing for two to three feet of snow.

The National Weather Service said the Lake Michigan shoreline could get 6 to 16 inches of snow by Tuesday, while 4 to 18 inches was forecast along Lake Superior.

Parts of Indiana and Ohio also dealt Monday with wintry weather, including snow, power outages, school closings and delays. A chain reaction crash involving more than a dozen vehicles blocked an icy section of Interstate 74 near Indianapolis for a couple of hours.

Further south, temperatures plummeted across Alabama after storms left flooding and scattered damage across the state, and areas of New Mexico recorded record low temperatures. Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said the mountain community of Eagle Nest saw a low temperature Monday of minus 17.

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