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Metro Rail aboveground reopens

We’re still feeling the effects of the freezing rain that left cars ice-caked Wednesday morning and caused a white-knuckle night for drivers Tuesday night.

Ice-covered overhead wires knocked out Metro Rail service aboveground for a few hours Wednesday morning. Service had been fully restored by 11:15 a.m., the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority said. The agency initially said it was the inbound track that reopened.

Trains had only been running in the underground portion of the route, the NFTA said. The agency is running shuttle buses along the above-ground route, as crews work to restore service.

The snow that is falling in some locations is expected to diminish later in the day.

Chain-reaction collisions Tuesday night sent at least three children and one adult to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries suffered in three major pileups.

Here’s where the pileups happened:

• At the exit from the Skyway onto Delaware Avenue

• On the Scajaquada Expressway exit at Niagara Street

• On Route 179 near the Ford plant in Hamburg

Hamburg police reported 33 cars were involved in pileup on the westbound 179, near the Martin Road exit at about 9:45 p.m. Even as police responded, more cars were crashing. A Hamburg patrol car blocking entry also was struck. The road was reopened at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday,

Treacherous road conditions led to the closing of the Buffalo Skyway at both ends at about 9:45 p.m. The Skyway reopened around 2:30 a.m.

Police said at least 14 cars collided with one another as they came off the Skyway at Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo before the Skyway was closed to all traffic.

Emergency medical service crews with the Buffalo Fire Department said they were “amazed” that no serious injuries were reported in the Skyway jam-up.

Another major collision was at the Scajaquada Expressway exit at Niagara Street on Buffalo’s West Side.

Three children were taken to Women and Children’s Hospital for examination of minor injuries suffered in that accident, and one adult was taken to the Erie County Medical Center.

That collision involved 11 private vehicles and one Buffalo Police patrol vehicle carrying two officers. Just after 9:30 p.m. Buffalo fire crews forced open the doors of the police patrol car to let the two officers get out, reportedly with no injuries.

More than a dozen tow trucks were called to both multi-vehicle scenes, with debris from various cars sprawled as far from the Skyway exit as Elm Street, including a number of damaged car bumpers.

Buffalo police closed the Buffalo exit of the Skyway just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Lackawanna Police Department closed off its end of the Skyway. One ambulance was sent to the Skyway about 10:30 p.m. but still there were no reports of serious injuries.

By about 10 p.m. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz sent out a Tweet about the Scajaquada Expressway, stressing that he could “confirm ice everywhere at my house.”

The large crowd leaving First Niagara Arena after the Sabres hockey game Tuesday night were urged by arena officials to be extra careful and use alternate routes home if possible because of the closing of the Skyway and the pile-up on the Scajaquada Expressway.

State Department of Transportation officials in Buffalo put out alerts to all drivers just before the Skyway shut down for the night and Niagara County drivers were alerted by various fire and law enforcement agencies there to be aware of possible black ice conditions on many roadways.

Government officials reported that Tuesday night’s icy road conditions were the result of a complex storm front that covered much of Erie and Niagara counties with freezing rain that caused havoc on many road in the area.

Weather forecast

The northtowns and Niagara and Orleans counties will continue to see some lake-effect snow with accumulation expected to be 1 to 3 more inches, according to the National Weather Service in Cheektowaga.

Snow will fall across the Southern Tier through the day and slowly shift northward toward Buffalo this afternoon. Only and inch or 2 of accumulation is expected, meteorologist David Thomas said.

“Enough to keep the ground white,” Thomas said.

The high temperatures Wednesday will reach the lower 20s, closer to the mid-20s near the lakes.

The early March weather roller coaster will see another weather system move in Friday, with areas near the Pennsylvania state line nabbing the highest amounts of snow.

Next Tuesday, highs are expected to reach the 60s.