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Northtowns: ‘We’re still out picking up leaves’

Town of Tonawanda and Amherst residents might have wondered what the fuss was all about Tuesday morning – and been grateful that they live in the Northtowns.

“I’m looking out my back window now, and you can still see the grass,” Town of Tonawanda Police Capt. Joseph Carosi said at midmorning.

But when he looked to the sky, he saw the great divide in Western New York weather.

“There’s a line of clouds to the south, but directly above us, it’s blue sky,” he said. “It’s like a line drawn in the sky.”

Longtime residents know that when lake-effect snow clobbers the area, the Niagara Thruway through downtown and South Buffalo often serves as the Mason-Dixon line. Others prefer to use a line that goes through the Walden Galleria.

In the first 24 hours of our first pre-winter storm, Northtowns residents and workers were mere bystanders to the mayhem experienced by their southern neighbors.

Only a coating or an inch or two of snow dusted the Northtowns.

“It’s just a regular winter day,” Joseph A. Speth, deputy highway superintendent in Amherst, said at midmorning. “In fact, we’re still out picking up leaves. The roads are clear. Maybe we’ll get it tomorrow [Wednesday] morning.”

Speth, like other Northtowns residents and workers interviewed for this story, wasn’t lacking empathy for his Southtowns counterparts. For one thing, people living north of the city know that winter can be fickle, that the lake-effect wind direction can change and turn on them at any time.

“Knowing some of the highway superintendents in the Southtowns, I really feel for them,” Speth said. “I know what they’re going through. But Old Man Winter may even things out.”

But not during the first day of this storm.

Helene Goldschmidt, owner of FrameUp Eyewear, on Main Street at Harlem Road in Snyder, never thought about closing her doors Tuesday.

“Everybody showed up for their eye exams this morning,” she said at about 10:30 a.m. “The sun’s out, it’s beautiful, and you’d never know there was a problem anywhere.”

To some people, snow may be one of the region’s assets. But other than skiers, snowblower salespeople and school kids looking for a day off, many would rather not deal with the toughest snow days.

“As an adult,” said Carosi, the Town of Tonawanda police captain, “I look at it as a blessing, that we don’t have to deal with the treacherous driving and the clearing of driveways.”

And from the police point of view, while driving to work in the morning, he clearly knows the difference facing him between a sunny day and a snow-clogged one.

Those who sell the Buffalo area to outsiders know that snow totals are just one of the differences among the separate areas within Western New York.

“It’s not just the weather that’s different,” Kelly Rehak, a realtor with RealtyUSA in Williamsville, said of the Southtowns’ character. “It’s the whole topography that’s different, with the hills ... and more open spaces. It’s a different setting, a different feel.”

When outsiders look for an area to buy a home, Rehak will ask them what they like to do in their spare time, what their hobbies are. And if they come from an area without snow, she’ll talk about both the positive and negative aspects of our traditional snow-belt areas.

“You hate to play into that national negative rap that Buffalo is a snow city and nothing else,” she added. “I never want to perpetuate that. We want to enjoy the four seasons, so we do play in the snow.”


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