Buffalo snowstorm leaving Bills, NFL with few contingencies

The lake-effect snowstorm in Buffalo that forced the NFL to move Sunday’s Bills-Browns game to Detroit looks brutal.

As much as 3-6 feet of snow is expected to be dumped on Western New York between Thursday and Saturday night, and the league is taking as many precautions as it can before time runs out.

“This is a major impact. There’s currently a travel ban,” an NFL source told CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson as they waited for Friday’s update. “Snow is coming down hard right now. I don’t know what’s the contingency if everyone can’t make it to the airport or we can’t fly out.”

The Bills announced that they canceled practice Friday due to the weather and are meeting virtually.

Sunday’s Bills-Browns is still scheduled to be played, though the league moved the matchup from Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium to Ford Field in Detroit. It will keep its scheduled 1 p.m. ET airtime on CBS. The Lions play the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, making their field available. 

That is, if the Bills can make it there. The team had planned to fly to Detroit on Saturday and return to Buffalo on Sunday, pending weather, Bills GM Brandon Beane said

. The team could opt to remain in Detroit, with their Week 12 game against the Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving.

Friday morning, star linebacker Von Miller took to Twitter to share a clip of the weather conditions in the area, showing what appeared to be his driveway and truck covered in snow. Trees and a basketball hoop can also be seen stacked with snow.

“Good Morning Buffalo,” Miller wrote in his tweet.

As the snow mounts, the NFL is concentrating on safety — league spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed in a tweet Thursday that the decision to move the game “has nothing to do” with Highmark Stadium being an outdoor facility without a dome. Instead, the NFL, Bills and local and state officials would not divert safety resources from the community.

An aerial view of the former Ralph Wilson Stadium, now Highmark Stadium, during a Buffalo Sabres-Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Winter Classic game in 2008 in Orchard Park.
Claus Andersen

It’s a sentiment shared by Bills brass.

“The decision to move the game to Detroit has everything to do about safety,” Bills chief operating officer Ron Raccuia said. “Safety first has been what we’ve been talking about here, really for the last 48 to 72 hours.”