The Bills-Steelers' playoff game has been moved to Monday due to hazardous winter weather

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A potentially dangerous snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area Saturday has led the NFL to postpone the Bills' wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers from Sunday to Monday.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the NFL cited public safety concerns for the postponement, with up to two feet of snow expected to fall on the area within more than 24 hours. Heavy snow began falling mid-afternoon Saturday, accompanied by strong winds and gusts Biles posted a video on social media of the bleaching conditions At Highmark Stadium.

“The decision to move the game to Monday was made in consultation with New York Governor Kathy Hochul in the interest of public safety, and with the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, as the region braces for the storm.” Bills said in a joint statement.

Hochul said she began talking with the NFL on Thursday about the possibility of rescheduling the game due to what she called a “dangerous storm.” Hochul, who is from outside Buffalo, concluded her news conference by saying, “Go to the Bills.”

“We want our bill to win, but we don’t want 60,000 to 70,000 people traveling to a football game in conditions that would be horrific,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference in suburban Buffalo.

Officials advised residents to stay off the roads starting at nightfall, with a driving ban taking effect at 9 p.m. The match will now take place at 4:30pm on Monday.

The forecast for the Buffalo area called for heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 65 mph (105 kph) on Saturday, with 1 to 2 feet (0.03 to 0.6 meters) or more of snow eventually accumulating. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that will last until 7 a.m. Monday.

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Much of the storm was expected to be concentrated in a narrow band of lake-effect snow hovering over Buffalo's southern suburbs, which includes the Bills' home in Orchard Park.

The severity of the storm is expected to subside during Sunday night. The forecast for Monday calls for snow showers likely throughout the day and increasing in the evening, with temperatures reaching 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 degrees Celsius) and wind gusts up to 29 mph (47 km/h).

Postponing the game freed up sheriff's deputies, who are normally assigned duties related to the Bell game, to handle storm-related emergencies, Poloncarz said. Officials were concerned about Steelers fans making the trip to Buffalo under treacherous conditions.

The Steelers have backed off their travel plans and will now head to Buffalo on Sunday.

A person familiar with the discussions between the NFL and state officials told The Associated Press that the league raised the possibility of moving the game to Atlanta before one day postponing it. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the conversations were supposed to remain private.

Without confirmation from Atlanta, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league's standard procedure is to have emergency sites for all games in case a game has to be moved.

“The NFL’s priority is always to ensure public safety and avoid diverting resources from authorities which could negatively impact local efforts in affected areas,” he said.

Following the NFL's announcement, the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins moved the start time of their Monday home game against the Seattle Kraken from 6pm to 1pm EST to avoid conflicting with the Bills-Steelers game. In Buffalo, the Sabers' home game Monday against the San Jose Sharks has been postponed from 1 p.m. to noon.

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The Bills are aware of weather-related schedule changes. In 2022, a lake effect storm moved Buffalo's home game against Cleveland to Detroit in November. A month later, a blizzard delayed the Bells' flight home, forcing them to stay the night in Chicago on Christmas Eve.

Although the NFL playoffs have been changed in the past for various scheduling reasons or to add tiebreaker games, this is only the third time weather has played a direct factor.

In January 2017, winter weather in Kansas City led the NFL to postpone the start of an AFC playoff game between Pittsburgh and the Chiefs from 1 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

In 1932, the league added a tie-breaking “playoff” game in the standings between the Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears. Blisteringly cold temperatures and heavy snow forced the game to be played inside Chicago Stadium, where the Bears won 9-0 on the 80-yard field.

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Peltz reported from New York City. AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

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