Thruway back open as snow buries Southtowns - The Buffalo News
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Thruway back open as snow buries Southtowns

Storm totals of 30 inches for southern Erie County and ski country are now forecast by the National Weather Service in Buffalo. The weather service has twice upped its estimated totals from the lake-effect storm that began Tuesday.

The Thruway was temporarily shut down between Exit 57 (Angola and Eden) and Exit 59 (Dunkirk) in both directions because of poor driving conditions.

The heavy snow and wind prompted Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard to issue a travel advisory for Southern Erie County.

“Poor weather conditions have made travel extremely hazardous in Southern Erie County,” a statement released this afternoon read.

“The areas of Erie County that have been hit the hardest so far include the towns that are located south of Route 20A. High winds combined with a heavy snowfall has resulted in reduced visibility and extremely icy road conditions in these areas. It is strongly advised that travel in these areas be limited to that which is necessary.”

It continued: “The possibility of the lake effect shows shifting to other parts of the county exists, and motorists are urged to check weather conditions and media forecasts prior to travelling within the county.”

A state of emergency was declared in Dunkirk, where five to six inches of snow has fallen since 2 p.m., according to Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce.

The travel ban began at 4 p.m. and will stay in place until further notice, said Dolce.

Dunkirk director of public works Tony Gugino reported white-out conditions throughout the city.

“We are totally enveloped,” Gugino said, advising residents to stay home. “There is no need to go Christmas shopping. Stay put and allow the plows to do their work.”

Blame the band of snow that’s been charging ashore at Dunkirk since this morning. “It hasn’t moved more than a mile or two,” meteorologist Dave Zaff said this afternoon.

That snowband is affecting an area that encompasses Eden, Silver Creek, Boston and Holland, Zaff said.

A second lake-effect snow warning was issued this morning for “northern” Erie County. Residents of Buffalo and the Northtowns can relax; the line used by the weather service to separate the northern and southern parts of the county extends roughly from Lake Avenue in Blasdell eastward.

“We never were worried about the Buffalo area. We’re still not worried about the Buffalo metro area,” Zaff said.

Residents of ski country began the day by digging out from up to 18 inches of lake-effect snow that fell Tuesday and overnight. The National Weather Service forecasts another 8 to 15 inches will fall before the lake-effect snow warning for that region expires at 4 a.m. Thursday.

The relentless snowfall is causing increasing problems on area roadways.

Route 20A, between Strykersville Road in Erie County and Route 98 in Wyoming County, was closed in both directions for part of the afternoon because of numerous disabled vehicles, the state Department of Transportation reported.

Earlier, a minor-injury accident late this morning on Route 20 in Hamburg resulted in the closure of that road between South Park Avenue and McKinley Parkway. According to Hamburg police dispatch, the road was closed at 11:45 a.m., to cut off traffic while the scene was cleared, and reopened at about 12:30 p.m.

The parts of Erie County included in the new warning, which runs until 7 p.m. today, extend from south of West Seneca to Alden. There, 6 to 9 inches of snow is forecast.

The storm has produced negligible accumulations in Buffalo proper and its immediate suburbs, where overnight snowfall was no more than a couple of inches. The Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the site of the weather bureau, measured just 1.1 inches.

The City of Buffalo is expected to receive an inch or less of new snow today.

But Perrysburg, in Cattaraugus County, topped this morning’s snow spotter report with 18 inches. A foot was reported in the Wyoming County Village of Warsaw.

There were unconfirmed reports of 15 inches of snow in Springville, where classes were canceled today at Springville Griffith Institute. Nearby, snow spotters in the Colden and Glenwood areas reported almost 11 inches.

West winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour could mean visibility reduced to 1/4 of a mile at times.

As for the temperature, highs in the mid-20s are in the forecast, and tonight’s lows will drop into the teens. On Thursday, the mercury will struggle to reach 20 in Buffalo, according to the weather service, with temperatures in the higher elevations topping out in the teens.


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