A highly anticipated snowfall game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns on Sunday will move from Buffalo to Ford Field in Detroit. Here’s what you need to know:
The National Weather Service office in Buffalo issued a warning Wednesday that a prolonged lake-effect snow event, likely including "paralyzing snowfall for the Buffalo and Watertown areas," is expected this week and through the weekend and will impact sports betting.
It added that a "crippling" lake-effect snowstorm remains possible Thursday night through Sunday night. The warning included Orchard Park, N.Y., where the Bills play, which sits just off the eastern tip of Lake Erie.
The time of the game will not change. It is still scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Lions are traveling to face the New York Giants on Sunday, allowing the Bills-Browns game to be played at Detroit’s home site.
Meanwhile, Buffalo and suburbs south of it could receive as much as 3-6 feet of snow by Sunday, AccuWeather meteorologists said this week. Thursday night into Friday and Saturday into Saturday night are expected to see the heaviest snowfall. Travel is strongly discouraged "during the height of the event" and could be "difficult to nearly impossible," AccuWeather said. November lake-effect snow events can completely shut down highways and could potentially leave fans — or members of the teams – stranded.
What they’re saying
A meteorologist told The New York Times that it’s very rare for forecasters to use words like "crippling" and "paralyzing."
"We usually don’t pull these terms out except for historic events," Buffalo Weather Service meteorologist Liz Jurkowski said.
Jurkowski added that the region could see "thundersnow," an ominous-sounding weather phenomenon that entails a thunderstorm with mostly snow falling rather than rain.
How the Bills have handled the uncertainty
The Bills were keeping a close eye on the incoming snowstorm and said Wednesday they have been in constant contact with the league offices. With the storm projected to begin on Thursday night, coach Sean McDermott said the team had several contingencies in place in case it had to pivot and couldn’t get into the building on Friday, Saturday or both.
The team said it provided young players and those in Buffalo with snow-clearing tools for its vehicles for the first time this year. Past instances of big snowstorms had members of the organization going to pick up stranded players to get them to the facilities for practice. The Bills also have often offered hourly wages to any member of the public to come in and help shovel out the stands in Highmark Stadium in the past.
McDermott and the Bills know all about big snowstorms. McDermott’s first year in 2017 featured a Bills and Colts matchup in Orchard Park that was an all-time classic. Fans couldn’t see the other half of the stadium from one end due to the blowing winds and snow already on the ground.