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Parts of New York are measuring the season's first big snowfall in feet, not inches.

As many as four feet fell in parts of the Buffalo area on Tuesday, with some forecasts predicting up to six feet through Thursday.

Conditions have been made worse by lake-effect snow, a condition in which cold winds blow over a lake's warm water surface. The approaching clouds made for a dramatic scene on Buffalo's shores Tuesday morning.

(From the archives: Read Tu Thanh Ha's report on lake-effect snow in Ontario, and why it usually gives Toronto a pass)

The snowfall has forced the closing of a 105-mile stretch of the state Thruway. The Thruway Authority says whiteout conditions have closed Interstate 90 in both directions Tuesday morning from the Rochester area to Dunkirk, on Lake Erie, 35 southwest of Buffalo. The National Weather Service says a foot to almost three feet of snow has fallen on areas south and east of the city.

Other major highways in the area are closed, numerous schools have cancelled classes and Buffalo officials have issued a driving ban for parts of the city.

Forecasters say the lake-effect storms will last into Wednesday for western New York and areas east of Lake Ontario.

With a report from Globe staff