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Freezing rain leads to slick roads, accidents in some towns

Freezing rain and frigid temperatures Saturday night and early Sunday morning left a slick sheen on the region's roads, creating dangerous driving conditions that led to several accidents, most of them minor.

The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory for freezing rain through 7 a.m. Sunday morning for most of Western New York, and Mother Nature didn't disappoint. The accumulation of ice and slush was not significant, but it was enough to make roads slippery for drivers.

"That's been the main weather so far, ice roads this morning," Steve Welch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said late Sunday morning. "There are some slick spots still out there, especially on side roads, from the freezing rain earlier this morning and rain from overnight that froze on the ground once the temperature dropped below freezing earlier."

That played out on streets across the region. In Amherst, a police dispatcher said officers were “inundated” with calls “town-wide” about car accidents, mostly “cars off the road in the ditches” and fender-benders.

University at Buffalo police also issued a warning about “very icy road conditions on campus and on roads leading to campus,” warning against any unnecessary travel on either the North or South campuses. “Please use caution when walking on campus as well,” said the warning, posted on the university web site and on Twitter.

The situation was similar in Cheektowaga, with “icy roads and a lot of wrecks,” a town dispatcher said. Galleria Drive, around the Walden Galleria mall, was particularly problematic, he said, but so were many other roads in the town. And police were dealing with many cases of cars sliding off the highways and into ditches..

“The state roads are pretty good. They’re getting better,” he said. But “the town roads are pretty bad. They didn’t get out quick enough.”

Hamburg police “had a few fender-benders,” but “nothing major,” according to a dispatcher, despite slippery conditions on the roads. “They’ve been slick all morning, the entire town, everywhere,” the officer said.

And a West Seneca dispatcher called it a “miracle” that the town wasn’t dealing with any accidents Sunday, as road conditions were improving steadily all morning. “That’s all we’ve been doing for the last several days,” he said.

The city of Lackawanna also had a quiet morning, with no accidents, a police official said. “All of our plow trucks are out there salting, and we haven’t had any complaints,” she said.

Similarly, plows “were out early this morning” in the town of Lancaster, and the “salt is working fine,” a police dispatcher there said. “Everything is pretty quiet,” she added.

Both the city and town of Tonawanda reported no accidents or other problems Sunday morning. “Everything’s going good,” a city dispatcher said. “Our [Department of Public Works] is out and they’re salting, and I haven’t had any accident calls. They’re just doing the whole city.”

Salt trucks also were already out in Kenmore. “The road conditions are getting better,” a dispatcher in Orchard Park said. “The salt trucks have been out and taking care of the streets for us.”

The more rural parts of the Southtowns also were faring better for a change. In East Aurora, roads were slick,but there were “no accidents holding at this time,” a police dispatcher said Sunday morning. Similarly, road conditions in the town of Eden are “just wet here,” according to a dispatcher.

“It’s quiet,” an Evans police dispatcher said. “We have not had any accidents.”

The cold front that passed through Western New York overnight also brought chillier  air. Temperatures peaked at about 34 degrees briefly overnight, at about 2 a.m., but began dropping steadily after that, on their way to expected highs in the upper teens by late afternoon or early evening. Welch, of the National Weather Service, said the clouds should clear up and allow some sunshine later in the day.

For Monday, he said, there's a chance of snow showers early in the day, and then lake-effect snow will develop over the Southern Tier, with a northwest wind. That band will shift to the north, moving over most of Erie County over the course of the day, but it won't generate more than an inch anywhere because it's not expected to remain in place, Welch said.

"It's not going to be really steady," he said. "It's going to be moving a decent amount most of the day."

For Tuesday, meanwhile, Welch said the temperature should hit a "balmy" 33 degrees, with mostly sunny skies and breezy conditions.

 

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