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FREEZING RAIN CAUSES SCORES OF MINOR ACCIDENTS ON WNY ROADS

Freezing rain caught Western New Yorkers during their afternoon drives home Monday, putting a coating of glare ice on many highways and causing scores of accidents, most of them minor.

A mother and her son were injured about 4:30 p.m. on Grand Island when their car skidded off Staley Road near the Thruway overpass, jumped a guardrail and rolled over several times.

Joan McCraith, 38, of 2485 First St., Grand Island, and her son George, 8, were rescued by members of the Grand Island Fire Company. She was taken to Erie County Medical Center with minor injuries. The boy was taken to Children's Hospital with head cuts and a back injury.

The Chautauqua Lake Bridge was closed after the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department and State Police answered calls for at least five minor accidents on the slippery span in a matter of minutes about 5 p.m. The bridge was reopened an hour later.

Chautauqua County sheriff's deputies received calls for more than two dozen traffic mishaps between 4:30 and 7 p.m. While areas near the Lake Erie shore received only rain, temperatures in higher elevations were cold enough for it to freeze. Though highways were treacherous, the freezing rain did not create enough ice to break tree limbs or power lines.

Cattaraugus County saw numerous accidents on the Route 17 expressway. Secondary roads were slippery in Wyoming County and southern Erie County. Slushy roads in Niagara County were blamed for several minor mishaps.

"East and south of here, it was a lot worse," said meteorologist Tom Paone of the National Weather Service office at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. "In a way, we did dodge the bullet."

The Western New York forecast for tonight called for partly cloudy skies and colder temperatures, with the low expected to hit about 25, meteorologist Alan Blackburn said.

"Wednesday looks like a nice day for the whole area," Paone noted. "There will be sunshine and temperatures in the 30s."

After that, Paone predicts that we will get either a white Christmas or a wet Christmas.

"The only problem there is we have another low-pressure system coming in," Paone said. "It could be a repeat of what we had Monday, a mix of rain and snow."

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