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The day after: digging out and canceled flights

The snow is tapering off and the cleanup is underway.

At the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, that means crews worked on removing the 11 inches of snow that fell there over night.

Several airlines canceled flights arriving and departing from the Cheektowaga airport, and among travelers, the hardest hit were people traveling to destinations along the East Coast.

Flights to Boston, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Florida were among those canceled because of the storm. But a few more flights were arriving and departing this afternoon.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority also advised the public of possible weather-related delays on Metro bus and rail routes.

Buffalo weather – you know, the weather we're always being portrayed as having year-round – is finally here, and it's going to get more challenging the next couple of days.

Saturday's winter storm began with blustery gusts of snow that dropped 3.4 inches at the Buffalo Niagara airport as of 7 p.m. It brought a low of 11 degrees that felt like -5, due to a northeast wind that wooshed at times with the force of 30 mph gales. The Department of Public Works reported 4 to 5 inches of snow in Clarence.

The slow but steady snow throughout the day was expected to accumulate another 4 to 8 inches overnight coming from the northern Ohio Valley, and keep falling until noon Sunday, when temperatures aren't expected to make it out of the low teens. Northerly, gusty winds are expected to make a low of -2 degrees feel like a bone-chilling -20 degrees.

"Travel will be very difficult with deep snow cover on roads and very poor visibility," the National Weather Service said.

The outdoor conditions were enough for some people to kick back at home. Some, like Matt Lenz and his girlfriend Sara McMahon of Grand Island, did so with beer, which they purchased from Consumer's Beverages in Amherst Saturday afternoon to go with the ingredients for a pot of chili they picked up from Tops Markets.

"This way, no one's asking us to go out. We can just sit inside and watch Netflix," Lenz said.

Kevin Webb of Amherst loaded two 30-packs of Coors Light into his trunk Saturday afternoon. He had plans to plow his driveway, then hunker down at home for the weekend. Jose Matias of the Town of Tonawanda opted for a 30-pack of Labatt Ice.

"There's no way they're getting caught on an NFL weekend without enough wine or beer," said Bill Caputi, owner of Caputi's Liquor.

Hunkering down at home was not an option Saturday for the Erie County Department of Public Works.

They had about 20 salting trucks on the roads to get ahead of the snow, but the results were less than hoped for.

"It is very slippery [due] to the cold and the salt is not as effective," the department tweeted early Saturday afternoon.

The deep snow cover on roads and low visibility from heavy snow and blowing snow led the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm warning for northern Erie County and Niagara County that is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday.

There also were travel advisories in the City of Niagara Falls, the Town of Niagara and all of Orleans County.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, anticipating bad weather overnight, went to Twitter to issue a travel advisory from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday, adding, "If you must travel, use extreme caution."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Mayor Byron W. Brown, held a "storm briefing" Saturday morning in the Thruway Authority's Buffalo division in Cheektowaga.

"I know Buffalo knows how to handle snow and we've been through much larger forecasts than 11 to 15 inches of snow. But this is nothing to be trifled with," Cuomo said at the news conference.

He urged caution, pointing to combination of snow, wind and biting cold temperatures, and said 1,600 state Department of Transportation plows and about 300 Thruway pieces of equipment are ready to go across New York.

The governor also issued a ban on tractor trailers and buses traveling the Thruway and most interstate highways that went into effect at 3 p.m. Motorists were being advised to avoid unnecessary travel for the duration of the storm to allow for highway crews to clear roads.

Brown opened four warming centers Saturday afternoon on the East Side and in North Buffalo.

Poloncarz urged Western New York families to make the storm an old-time Sunday for the kids: Bring out the board games and keep kids inside tomorrow, he suggested.

Buffalo Public Schools canceled all weekend activities, and organizers of the Women's March in Buffalo announced a rally and march slated to take place Sunday had been postponed.

There was also a power outage in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood, with over 500 National Grid customers, including the Buffalo Zoo, losing electricity following a fire in a manhole. Power was restored by about 3 p.m. to all residential customers, Delaware Council member Joel Feroleto said.

A zoo spokesman said backup generators prevented the animals from being affected by the outage, but the zoo will remain closed Sunday.


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