The output from the lake-effect storm that enveloped Western New York could be swept from the pavement in Buffalo, West Seneca and Amherst.
In parts of the Southtowns, however, you needed a backhoe to clear the 2 feet of snow that fell with a fury in North Collins, Dunkirk and Boston.
One meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo compared this snow-churning blast to a firehose. Those living north of Route 20A escaped with a few flakes. It was a different story on the southern side.
“The line of demarcation between the haves and the have-nots was Big Tree Road,” said meteorologist Bill Hibbert. “This was heavy snow in a very small, narrow area – 10 to 12 miles wide – such that it closed the Thruway eastbound from Dunkirk to Silver Creek, a 12.5-mile stretch. Westbound, the Thruway was closed from Hamburg to Dunkirk because of all the rerouted traffic.”
State Police Trooper Jason Jones, public information officer for Troop T, said there were no major accidents on the closed portion of the Thruway.
“There were no issues with ‘winch-outs’ or accidents,” said Jones. “Fast squalls moved in and created zero visibility. Once the squall passed, the plows came through, and they cleared the roadway.”
Jones noted the Thruway sections were closed between 4 and 5:30 p.m. At 8 p.m., he said, the traffic was flowing smoothly.
Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce issued a driving ban on city streets at 4 p.m. Dolce pointed to zero visibility and snow-clogged streets as factors in his decision to issue the driving ban.
Tony Gugino, Dunkirk’s director of Public Works, said there were white-out conditions throughout the city.
“We are totally enveloped,” said Gugino, who advised residents to stay home Wednesday night. “There is no need to go Christmas shopping. Stay put and allow the plows to do their work.”
The Fredonia Police Department, meanwhile, requested no unnecessary travel in the village, which is adjacent to Dunkirk.
After 53 winters in Western New York, John Catalano of Angola went to work Wednesday prepared to stay the night.
“I might sleep here,” said the manager of Tops Market on South Cascade Drive in Springville. “It’s not like I never slept in a store before. I slept in one in Jamestown. I’ll just pull a blanket off the shelf.”
When Catalano arrived at work at 11 a.m. Wednesday to start his 10-hour shift, he said, the sun was shining.
“It didn’t start snowing here until 3 to 4,” he said. “There’s already about a foot of snow on the ground. I’d rather have snow any day than tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires.”
For most of Wednesday, Ellicottville – the snow-loving ski village in Cattaraugus County, remained “on the edge of the lake-effect snow,” said Holiday Valley spokesperson Jane Eshbaugh. “No huge gangbusters, but a nice 3 inches of snow all day on top of the 9 inches from yesterday.”
Eshbaugh added that a few of the high school ski clubs scheduled to hit the slopes tonight at Holiday Valley cancelled due to the poor driving conditions on Route 219.
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, many secondary roads in Eden were like driving on a skating rink. In some cases, cars and school buses were plowing their own path because the snow was falling so quickly.
Eden School District dismissed junior-senior high school students early at 1:27 p.m., so that buses could take older students home and get back in time for the younger students’ bus runs.
It was the second consecutive day that Eden canceled after-school activities.
In Sardinia, in the southeastern corner of Erie County, residents got hammered with quite a bit of snow, and it was still snowing hard late into the afternoon.
“It’s just crazy deep. It’s just nonstop,” said Supervisor-elect Beverly Gambino. “We’ve had a steady snow all day.”
Road conditions worsened in the tri-county area, bordered by Erie, Wyoming and Cattaraugus counties, as the day went on.
Sardinia Highway Superintendent Don Hopkins said it was challenging, but he’s dealt with worse conditions. “It’s just a constant snow that hasn’t let up,” he said, noting that his plows started working the roads Tuesday night and then went back out starting at 2 a.m. Wednesday. “We’ve been going pretty much nonstop.”
As of late afternoon, Sardinia had racked up nearly 18 inches of snow. “It’s bad enough, but I’ve seen worse,” Hopkins said.
By 7 p.m. Wednesday the snow had shifted further south to the upper elevations of Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, said Hibbert.
Expect the snowfall to let up today, said Hibbert, but the temperatures will continue to nosedive.
“Unfortunately, the temperatures will not recover,” Hibbert said. “We’re in the deep freeze for a while, with lower teens and single digits in metro Buffalo this morning.”
Windchills, he said, will be close to zero.
There will be a weekend “warm-up” with high temperatures in the mid-20s for Saturday and Sunday.
“Maybe next Tuesday, the temperature will be near freezing, but otherwise expect nighttime temps of crisply frigid air with lows in the teens,” said Hibbert.
News Staff Reporter Karen Robinson and Chautauqua Correspondent Susan Chiappone contributed to this report. email email@example.com