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'Business as usual' Monday as wind chills dip after winter storm

The coldest air of the season roared into Western New York on the heels of a blustery storm that hit, thankfully, when most were off the roads over the weekend.

But now that the worst of the snow is over, and thousands are off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it's too cold for many to go out.

Dangerous wind chills – as low as 35 below zero – are expected in southern Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

It won't be much better in northern Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, where wind chills as low as 20 to 25 below zero are expected.

"Frostbite can occur in 30 minutes or less if the wind chill is just 15 degrees below zero," Aaron Reynolds, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Cheektowaga, said Sunday.

In announcing the warning, the weather service advised people of the "potentially dangerous situation" outdoors and said, "If you must be outside, be sure to cover all exposed skin."

The frostbite warnings are part of an official wind chill warning that lasts until 7 p.m. Monday.

With that, Code Blue – the emergency weather safety plan for the homeless – continues Monday, with warming centers open in Buffalo. The William-Emslie Family YMCA, 585 William St., is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday; Harbor House, 241 Genesee St., is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and the Old First Ward Community Center, 62 Republic St., is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday.

"If you know of anyone out on the streets, please try to get them to a warming shelter," Mayor Byron W. Brown said Sunday.

Expect snow showers and flurries, as well as a bit of sun Monday.

What to expect the next 36 hours: Wind chills of minus 25 degrees

The weather forced the cancellation of the annual event at Kleinhans Music Hall to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday afternoon because of poor driving conditions, organizers said.

Bessie Patterson, coordinator of the long-running event, said some performers could not attend because streets in parts of Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs were not sufficiently plowed. She hopes to reschedule for early February, she said, if that can be arranged around Kleinhans' other events.

The 29th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast is still planned for 8 a.m. Monday in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center with Mayor Brown as the keynote speaker.

Also going forward Monday, the seventh annual MLK Day 2019 Hamburg Food Drive, by the Service Collaborative of WNY, Village of Hamburg Parks and Recreation Department, Hamburg High School Academy of Finance, Food Bank of WNY and Tops Friendly Markets. Volunteers will work together to collect canned/nonperishable goods from the front porch of each village household. Residents also can donate canned and nonperishable goods at the Tops locations in Hamburg and North Boston only, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lifted the ban on tractor-trailers and buses from the Thruway and other state highways at 6 p.m. Sunday. Fifty-nine drivers were ticketed for driving in the ban, according to acting State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett. He said one truck driver who violated the ban rolled his rig over near Victor, moving 200 feet of guardrail and closing the driving lane for nearly three hours.

"The worst of the storm is over," Cuomo said Sunday, but he added, "if you do not have to go out, you should not go out."

How much snow did your town get?

Mayor Brown also detailed a snow-related rescue of a private snow plow driver in North Buffalo Sunday.

"The vehicle was engulfed in flames in the front and the driver had a leg injury and could not get out of the vehicle alone," Brown said.

He said two Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority workers saw the man and pulled him from the burning truck.

Despite the cold, Buffalo is open for "business as usual" Monday.

City officials made that promise at a news conference Sunday updating the public on cleanup efforts following the big storm.

"Yes, that's our goal," said Steven Stepniak, the city's public works commissioner. "Yes, business as usual."

Stepniak said the city's more than 40 snow plows spent Saturday and early Sunday morning clearing the city's main and secondary roads and began attacking neighborhood side streets at about 7 a.m. Sunday.

"When you have the winds that we had yesterday, it keeps the snow blowing around so you have to do repeat applications," he said of the city's main roads.

Brown encouraged residents to stay off the streets for now and to abide by parking regulations on their streets. City plow crews expected to have plowed 75 percent of side streets by Sunday evening.

"If you don't have to go out, don't," Brown said Sunday. "And if you do have to go out, go slow."

News staff reporter Caitlin Dewey contributed to this report.

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