The Buffalo Skyway, closed for nearly 10 hours by the weather, reopened about 11 p.m. Wednesday.
The elevated highway along the waterfront and four miles of Route 5 to Ridge Road in Lackawanna were closed about 1 p.m. after a couple minor accidents and severe whiteouts that caused motorists to pull to a stop.
The lake-effect snow squalls and gusty winds that prompted the closing diminished during the evening. Sunshine and warmer temperatures are promised today.
During the evening rush hour, motorists leaving downtown Buffalo were forced to use the Niagara Thruway and local streets, where traffic was at a crawl.
A rollover accident on the Kensington Expressway near Eggert Road also snarled outbound traffic.
In addition, Route 5 at Camp Road in Hamburg was closed in both directions due to an accident at 2:30 p.m.
An accident on the 400 also led to one lane of an entrance ramp to the Thruway being closed in the early afternoon.
Evening motorists also were slowed by an accident on the northbound Niagara Thruway near the Youngmann Highway exit and on the westbound mainline Thruway near the Clarence service area.
Complicating the commute home was the wind, which regularly gusted to more than 35 mph. Intensifying the wind-driven whiteouts was a burst of lake-effect snow.
Windy conditions pushed the ice around on Lake Erie, exposing more water and producing some lake-effect, explained meteorologist Bill Hibbert at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service .
“It’s like taking a lid off a pot,” Hibbert said.
The afternoon and evening snow focused on downtown northward in places like Amherst, the Town of Tonawanda and southern Niagara County, Hibbert said.
In Niagara County, wind and snow caused some whiteout conditions, with cars going off the road and into ditches or mailboxes.
In Cambria two people were injured in a one-car rollover at 9:30 a.m. in front of 5001 Saunders Settlement Road. The cause of the crash was not determined, but it was reported in an area where other cars had gone off the road in weather-related crashes. No serious injuries were reported.
Two unidentified people involved in the rollover were taken to Lockport Memorial Hospital by Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance. Cambria Volunteer Fire Department and Cambria Ambulance also responded.
Shawnee Volunteer Fire Department responded and closed the road for about an hour. Wendelville Volunteer Fire Department was on standby.
The names of the victims and the extent of their injuries were not released.
After bottoming out at zero just before dawn, the temperature climbed into double digits early Wednesday afternoon and had leveled off at 13 degrees at 11 p.m.
Wind chill values, which hit minus 20 during the morning hours, had moderated to minus 3.
The region should be enjoying sunshine and temperatures rising into the upper 20s later today.
“Get the shades and sunscreen out,” Hibbert said.