Take it slow through Buffalo area roads this evening - The Buffalo News
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Take it slow through Buffalo area roads this evening

How’d you like that slippery commute this morning?

Well, your evening ride home may be as just as bad – or worse.

After all, it’s been snowing steadily all day, said Dave Zaff, a meteorologist with the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service. “There’s going to be more snow on the ground.”

Cars were spinning out and trucks were sliding throughout the Buffalo Niagara region today. The 198 westbound was shut down in the late morning between Parkside and Delaware avenues.

Trooper Len Genovese reported highways were slick this afternoon pretty much everywhere in the region.

“There are accidents all over the place, mostly from blowing snow,” he told The Buffalo News. But, he added “it’s not out of hand or anything. It’s slippery. It’s winter in Buffalo.”

The Weather Service had received reports of snow accumulation of a few inches to as much as over a foot, mostly east toward the Rochester area.

“Most everyone is getting a half foot or more,” Zaff said. “It’s accumulating, about four inches per 12-hour period.”

Add to all the snow that the fact that salt doesn’t work all that well when the temperature gets below about 15 degrees, which Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz pointed out on his Twitter account today.

“I just learned from my DPW staff salt is ineffective for the most part when temperature is under 15 degrees,” he tweeted. “Explains why roads are slick.”

Zaff explained that salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice “have varying degrees of ability to melt snow at various temperatures. ... Once you get to 15, it gets harder and harder for them to come up with a good chemical composition to melt that snow properly.”

But 15 is going to feel downright balmy by tonight, as temperatures plummet to a low of zero.

The snow will taper off, but winds will pick up a bit, with sustained winds of 10 to 15 mph out of the north. With the wind chill factor, it’s going to feel like its minus 15, perhaps even as low as minus 20, Zaff said.

That’s cold enough for school districts to consider closing for the day. Those decisions probably won’t be made until early Friday morning.

The weather was also having a snowball effect in many of the nation’s airports today.

The cold also poses a risk of frostbite, when skin freezes, and hypothermia, when the body dangerously loses heat, for anyone outside for even short periods of time.

The best antidote for frozen hands or feet is to put them in lukewarm water, without rubbing, until feeling is restored, said Dr. Raquel Martin, director of emergency services at Kenmore Mercy Hospital.

She also urged warm clothing at all times, especially on the head, hands and feet, and cautioned against seniors, who are often most susceptible to cold temperatures, going out along in bone-chilling and slippery conditions.

“We had someone yesterday who fell getting his groceries. He lay unconscious, and we don’t know for how long. But his milk was frozen when he was found,” Martin said.

Animals are also at great risk in subzero temperatures. Pet owners are strongly advised to bring their pets inside.

A warm-up is forecast for Saturday, with a high around 30 and a mostly sunny sky. On Sunday, a high of 36 is predicted, with a chance of another snow system coming into the area.

Then, another cold front is forecast.

“If you like tomorrow morning’s forecast, you’ll like Tuesday and Wednesday’s too,” Zaff

It looks like it could get back down around zero again Monday night into Tuesday and Wednesday, and those sub-freezing temperatures could be accompanied with winds and maybe even some lake-effect snow.

“Some of the area could have significant lake-effect snow either Monday night or Tuesday,” Zaff said. “The potential is there.”

Some 1,626 flights were canceled along the Eastern seaboard and in parts of the Midwest, particularly Chicago – by late morning, according to FlightAware.com, which offers flight tracking services.

The current storm is centered over Kentucky and traveling east toward the mid-Atlantic and is expected to cause blizzardlike conditions along the East Coast.

The bad weather forced the cancellation of the University at Buffalo’s basketball game with South Dakota State, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Arena. The South Dakota team was traveling by bus to Chicago when it learned it would not be able to catch its flight. There is no word yet as to whether the game will be rescheduled.

email: msommer@buffnews.com and mbecker@buffnews.com

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