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Snowstorm leaves more than 25,000 without power in WNY

About 25,000 households and businesses lost electricity overnight and many may not be able to turn their lights back on until midnight Saturday following a winter storm that dropped a foot or more of heavy, wet snow across the region.

National Grid said more than 18,000 customers had no power as of this morning and NYSEG reported more than 7,100 in Western New York without power.

Cattaraugus County was hit especially hard, with more than 13,000 National Grid and NYSEG customers with no power. And it may be a while before they get their power back on.

[RELATED: What to expect in the next 36 hours]

Many school districts throughout the region have announced snow days for today, as have the University at Buffalo and SUNY Buffalo State. Many flights in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport have been canceled. Travel advisories have been issued in the City of Niagara Falls, the town and village of Orchard Park and Eden and all of Cattaraugus County. The City of Orleans issued emergency street parking rules.

Update, 11:12 a.m.:

A sign that things are getting back to normal: The travel advisory in the town and village of Hamburg will expire at noon.

However, officials urged anyone hitting the roads to still be care.

"While the main roads are in great shape, many secondary roadways remain snow-covered with packed snow. Please exercise extra caution in residential areas as residents work to clear snow from their driveways," officials posted to the Town of Hamburg Emergency Services Facebook page.

They also warned that afternoon winds could bring down more trees later today.

Update, 10:56 a.m.:

The mayor of Salamanca declared a state of emergency in the city after more than 20 trees fell and made many streets impassable, according to the Salamanca Press.

Mayor Michael Smith said there will  be no unnecessary travel in the city, the Press reported.

“No idea when power will be restored,” he told the Press.

National Grid said on its website that all 119 of its customers in Salamanca had lost power and should have power restored by 6 p.m. today.

Salamanca High School has been set up as an emergency shelter in the meantime.

Update, 10:55 a.m.:

"It's like pushing cement," said Patrick O'Brien, whose family business, O'Brien Lawn Care, handles plowing. O'Brien and his crew have been plowing Since Thursday night. "We got 18 inches of snow. You can't back-drag it. It's hard to push. I got stuck twice. My son got stuck twice. It's just the weight of the snow."

"I plowed the Aurora Waldorf School at 10:30 last night, and after I was done my wife called and told me it was closed today," said O'Brien, laughing it off.

Update, 10:36 a.m.:

Erie County's public works crews were getting a good handle on the snow by midmorning, said Public Works Commissioner Bill Geary.

Plows have made their through most major county roads twice as of about 10 a.m., he said. Now, the trucks are concentrating on secondary roads and side streets.

The biggest challenges have come in the Southtowns – particularly Springville, Concord and Boston – where trees brought down power lines.

Plows had to wait for power company workers to clear downed lines and trees on Springville/Boston Road (Route 391), Geary said. Now, they're waiting for about a dozen trees to be cleared from Sharpe Street in Concord to get their plows through there.

The county will have about 30 to 40 crews out at a time today, Geary said. The crews are working 12-hour shifts, which were already scheduled.

This marked the last week of a 24-hour operation for public works, Geary noted, which worked out well for dealing with this snow storm.

"March came in like a lion," he said. "Hopefully, it calms down now and gets back to those moderate temperatures."

Update, 10:30 a.m.:

The National Weather Service canceled the winter storm warning for the Buffalo Niagara region at about 10:30 a.m., two and a half hours early. The warning was originally slated to extend until 1 p.m.

Update, 9:49 a.m.:

Cattaraugus County was hit especially hard by the snow storm. Friday morning more than 13,000 National Grid and NYSEG customers in the Southern Tier county had no power. A travel advisory was in effect for all of Cattaraugus County as crews worked to clear fallen trees and restore power.

"Everyone is working as hard as they can to get power restored throughout the county," Cattaraugus County emergency officials posted on Facebook Friday morning at about 9:30 a.m. "We have requested additional power crews to assist our local crews. The problem is beyond the typical lines down, so it will take longer than usual to get everyone back up and running. We're trying as hard as we can to get everyone power as soon as we safely can do so. We'll keep you updated with any pertinent information."

Most county phone lines were not working this morning, officials said, but 911 was operating.

A shelter has been set up at Salamanca High School, officials said.

Update, 9:16 a.m.:

Public works crews have been out all night clearing snow and tree limbs from roadways.

Orchard Park Highway Superintendent Fred J. Piasecki Jr. said his crews have been out since shortly after midnight.

"The situation is have the wet snow and we've got limbs down and power lines down," Piasecki said Friday morning. "The snow is very difficult to move. It's a wet, heavy snow – overall above the 15-inch mark in terms of accummulation."

Clearing snow from cul-de-sacs has been especially challenging, he said. Workers are using high lifts to scoop out the snow from those areas.

Update, 8:20 a.m.:

Southern Erie County and Cattaraugus County have posted some of the largest snow totals from the storm that started Thursday evening.

On the hills just south of East Aurora, 18.6 inches had fallen by 7 a.m. Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock. Franklinville in Cattaraugus County had 18.5 inches.

"Seems like southern Erie County is one of the hardest hit," Hitchcock said.

Click here to see snowfall tallies so far.

Update, 7:56 a.m.:

The snowstorm that hit Buffalo overnight and the nor'easter hitting the East Coast have led to numerous flight cancellations in and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport this morning.

Airport officials urged anyone planning to fly today to check the status of their flights before making the trek to the airport.

Update, 7:44 a.m.:

You may just want to stay home today, or at least delay your ride into work.

Numerous accidents are being reported throughout the region, including one in Batavia involving a truck that has shut down both directions of I-90, according to WBFO, and another one near the Pennsylvania border, WGRZ said.

While most main roads are passable, they are slippery and traffic was moving slowly.

Update, 7:22 a.m.:

Trees are down on Boston State Road, Quaker Road and Zoar Valley Road, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported on Twitter. "We cannot remove until power lines that are down have been disconnected," he tweeted. "So there may be road closings. If you see a line down never touch it or try to drive over it!"

Update, 7:21 a.m.:

The snowfall in Buffalo — 8.4 inches — broke the previous record, set in 1914, of 6.5 inches. That's through 7 a.m., the National Weather Service noted, with "additional accumulation expected."

Update, 7:07 a.m.:

More than 25,000 households and businesses in Western New York lost power overnight after a blustery snow storm brought down trees and power lines.

Hardest hit was Cattaraugus County where Friday morning more than 13,000 National Grid and NYSEG customers had no power. A travel advisory was in effect for all of Cattaraugus County as crews worked to clear fallen trees and restore power.

Update, 6:44 a.m.:

City officials are asking residents to stay off roads as much as they can this morning to allow crews to clear the streets.

"City crews have been salting and plowing all night, focusing on mains and secondaries as the snow continues to fall," spokesman Michael DeGeorge said in a release early Friday morning.


• What to expect the next 36 hours

• City officials: Stay off roads as much as possible

Snow storm knocks out power to more than 25,000 customers in WNY

• Morning commute: Numerous accidents throughout WNY

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