The harsh effects of Monday’s storm were scattered throughout much of Erie County by late afternoon, well into the evening.
Hamburg Town Police were not taking any chances and issued a travel advisory through Code Red calls to their 55,000 residents, urging no unnecessary travel in the entire town, including the villages of Hamburg and Blasdell and surrounding areas – until further notice.
“We’re not getting heavy snows, but the winds are just real crazy. It’s just very windy,” said Hamburg police dispatcher Lance Kelly, shortly before 6:30 p.m.
The Lancaster area also had dicey driving conditions and issued a travel advisory for the town.
Many Southtowns commuters faced very long drives home from downtown – ranging from 1.5 hours from the city toward Eden, traveling along South Park Avenue since the Skyway was closed, to more than three hours, in some cases as workers bucked the strong winds and blowing, drifting snow bands.
The drive between the Town of Eden and Village of Hamburg was particularly challenging, with numerous white-outs and blizzard-like conditions along routes 62 and 75, stretching alongside the farms.
As drivers struggled to see out their windshields, with many using their four-way flashers, a blizzard warning was issued for Erie County.
“It’s bad,” said Eden Highway Superintendent Ronald Maggs. “It’s definitely bad blowing and drifting. The wind makes it the worst. The snowfall is on and off. You can’t see a thing. It’s dangerous out there.”
Maggs and other highway officials noted that it’s the worst winter storm weather that the Buffalo area has seen in several years. “It’s looking like this might be a real bad winter,” Maggs said. “We’ve had nothing the last few years. It’s been five to six years since we’ve had (bad) weather.”
Just before 7 p.m. Monday, Maggs’ snowplowing crews were just beginning their fourth round of clearing the 40 square miles of Eden’s roads. “We’ll be out there and doing our thing,” Maggs said. “We’ll go out late tonight and go out probably again around 3 a.m.”
The tough winter weather, so far, has come at a cost, too. In Eden’s case, the highway garage has used 3,500 gallons of diesel fuel in December, compared to 1,000 to 1,500 gallons typically used over the course of a month. “That is the biggest I can ever remember,” Maggs said.
Additionally, Eden has probably used more than 2,000 tons of a salt and sand blended mix so far this winter, he said.
In the Town of Evans, visibility was exceptionally bad. “It’s very, very poor visibility pretty much everywhere,” said Jack Hazard, a snow plow driver for the town. “It seems to be more of an issue with visibility. The wind just seems to be blowing it around.”
As the early evening hours began, more snow began falling and conditions worsened in Evans. “It really started picking up,” Hazard said, noting that a round of five snowplow trucks, with 10 men in all, was working the routes until 10 p.m. Another three trucks were expected to be back out between overnight going into early Tuesday morning hours.
In West Seneca, police reported significant wind and white-outs. “The wind is kicking up,” a dispatcher said. “A couple of officers wondered if there was going to be a driving ban issued.”