Candace Hines was wishing she had that snowblower back.
The Village of Hamburg resident was hard at work late Tuesday morning, shovel in hand, attacking a deep pile of snow at the end of her short driveway.
Hines moved into her house at the corner of Center Street and Long Avenue about a year and a half ago. Her last home was a condo, which meant the snowblower was expendable. Tuesday, not so much.
“I think I’ll buy a snowblower,” she said in between digs.
Hamburg has been one of the hardest-hit areas during the Blizzard of 2014. As elsewhere, the strong winds would come and go — then come again — and the snow went between flurries and heavy. But the breaks in severe weather were short-lived. Tuesday night, streets were generally snow-covered but clear, yet conditions remained treacherous. Bitter temperatures only made the efforts to dig out more difficult.
Highway crews were planning to work all night to get streets ready for residents to go to work Wednesday morning.
The plan was to “really hit it hard a little past midnight, and get everything cleared and ready for the morning commute,” said Hamburg Supervisor Steven J. Walters.
Throughout the day, conditions changed on a dime. At one point late Tuesday morning, parts of the town were in dig-out mode. By midday, the reprieve was over. Winds kicked up and created whiteout conditions. Those who saw sunshine and clear streets in the morning found themselves stuck on treacherous roads.
A row of tractor trailers idled at Exit 57 of the still-closed Thruway while the toll booths were blocked by a State Trooper and a Thruway Authority plow worked to keep the toll plaza clear.
Some tractor trailers opted for Southwestern Boulevard as an alternative to the Thruway, but they crawled along. One needed a tow truck to pull it out of a drift around noon on Southwestern near Camp Road.
One of the worst stretches was Southwestern near Erie Community College South Campus. At one point around 3 p.m., three vehicles were stranded within a one-mile stretch near the Orchard Park border.
Tow truck operator Duryll Anderson braved the blowing snow to try to free a minivan from a drift on Southwestern. For Anderson, it was part of a long day.
“This is number five, but it’s a big five,” Anderson said.
In some spots, you could see grass, with the wind whipping the ground clear while producing large drifts. The bitter cold — a bank thermometer showed a minus-3 reading late in the morning — and wind were reminders of what makes a blizzard different from a typical Western New York storm.
In the estimation of Hines, who has lived in the area since the ‘70s, “this is nothing compared to the Blizzard of ‘77.”
A couple blocks away, Gayle Murphy was out for a short morning walk with her dog, Bella, in front of her Union Street home. Bella was keeping warm with an Old Navy shirt and some boots; Murphy was bundled up and donning ski goggles.
“It’s a beautiful, snowy day,” Murphy said. “What are you gonna do?”
Murphy said she and her husband, who helped clear out neighbors’ sidewalks with his snowblower, planned to make the most of the conditions. She said Tuesday night they’d get together for dinner with their neighbors.
Meanwhile, Hines was trying to figure out where to put all the snow. Still, she was undaunted by the Blizzard of 2014.
“Winter is boring without drama,” she said.
News Staff Reporter Barbara O’Brien contributed to this report.