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Snow Squall warnings added to Wireless Emergency Alerts

Mobile device warning could prevent highway tragedies
Posted at 5:12 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 17:12:04-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The National Weather Service wants to make sure you are not caught in a snow squall. It has added a snow squalls warning to the Emergency Alerts you can receive on your cellphone. This is all to help prevent highway tragedies.

This week a snow squall is to blame for a deadly 20-car pile-up on interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania. Two died and more than 40 were hurt.

But just as we receive tornado and flash flood alerts on our mobile devices, Wireless Emergency Alerts will now warn of snow squalls.

“To let people know in advance of when they would be driving into these things that they're coming,” explained Mike Fries, meteorologist, Buffalo National Weather Service office in Cheektowaga.

Mike Fries, meteorologist, Buffalo National Weather Service office in Cheektowaga.

Fries says they hope this could prevent highway crashes in the great lakes and northeast regions where snow squalls can quickly move into the area.

“It comes in – then dumps – not always a very large amount of snow – but it’s enough to cover the ground, ice up all the roads and make the visibility go to next to nothing and in 20 or 30 minutes it might be gone,” Fries noted.

Our 7 First Alert meteorologist Michelle Mcleod says it will let you make a quick decision while driving.

“You're on the 90 and you’re driving say west you’re driving into it – you could slow down and drive for the conditions, especially for white out conditions. Sometimes your just in middle of it,” Mcleod said.

This past Wednesday morning snow squalls moved into parts of the Western New York region.

Snow Squalls from earlier this week on National Weather Service computer.

Meteorologist Fries says he was waiting at a red light on Genesee Street at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport when a squall moved over Cheektowaga.

“7:30 in the morning, at the red light, and it went from no snow to white out while I was waiting for the light to turn,” Fries recalled.

To get the snow squall warnings on your phone go to your settings, scroll to notifications and then scroll all the way down to local the Emergency Alert and click it on,

Right now, not all cell providers are offering the snow squall alert, but by mid-January everyone should be able to receive the alerts.