SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Last Friday Michael Walter, his wife Alyssa and their dog hit the road to visit family in Buffalo for Christmas. Before the Liverpool couple could make it there, the weather changed their plans.

“It was the worst blizzard or snowfall I have ever seen in my entire life,” Walter recalled. “When we were on the Thruway the visibility was probably. You could see five feet in front of you at the absolute most and that was only their tail lights if they had them on.”

They eventually got in a caravan of cars traveling behind a plow, but they ended up getting stuck near exit 51 on the Thruway in Buffalo. They called for help, but because of the conditions did not know when help could come.

“We went into basically just survival mode. Turning the car, leaving it running for 20 to 30 minutes at time, turning it off for 30 minutes at a time. Huddled in the back seat with me my wife and our dog.”

Michael Walter, Liverpool man stranded in Western New York

They had to shovel behind their tailpipe periodically. After 15 hours, they abandoned their car when a plow driver picked them up to bring them to shelter at a DOT garage. They eventually found a hotel. He credits the crews for them being safe.

“They deserve all the thanks,” Walter said.

He never expected the trip to end as it did, here’s what he recommends you keep in your car. “Water, food, blankets,” he said.

He also recommends a shovel and fuel. With the Thruway reopened, they look forward to getting home.