It’ll be a bit easier making it home for dinner tonight.
That’s because the nearly four-day lake-effect machine is winding down. Roads in the Buffalo metro area this afternoon, where it was only snowing lightly this hour, should be wet but generally cleared of any snow that quickly fell in lake-effect bursts during rush-hour Thursday.
Roadways in parts of Southern Erie County and the Southern Tier, where the bulk of the snow fell over the last several days, may still be snow-covered and slippery in some spots tonight. The National Weather Service extended its lake-effect snow warning, that was due to expire at 1 p.m. today, to 7 p.m. for those areas.
“The wind is going to change direction,” said Jon Hitchcock, weather service meteorologist, explaining why the lake-effect machine will be shut down. “It’s going to start coming out of the north and northeast, that will stop the fetch off Lake Erie.”
There will be a brief respite tonight before a general snowfall affects all of Buffalo Niagara with 4-7 inches of snow expected Saturday as a low pressure system approaches from the Ohio Valley and moves through the Northeast.
“Anyone who missed out on the lake effect will get this one,” added Hitchcock.
Everyone from Illinois to New England can expect snow from this weather system.
That will pad the snowfall totals already recorded in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Niagara International Airport received 5.6 inches Thursday and, as of just before 4 p.m., picked up 1.4 inches more today.
High temperatures today and Saturday will be in the low 20s, which Bob Hamilton, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said is about 15 degrees below normal.
The snow fall has delighted skiers and snowboarders: Kissing Bridge has gotten four feet of snow this week and is expanding its open terrain accordingly.
“We’ve gotten just a ton of snow,” Mark Halter, president of Kissing Bridge, said late this morning.
“We’ve been shoveling nonstop – this is all good stuff,” he hastened to add.
The conditions, Halter said, “are powder, powder and more powder. The depth is extraordinary, especially for this time of year.”
Halter said crews have been packing down the snow and trying to keep the parking lots clear. “All great problems for a ski area,” he said.
Nineteen trails at the central and south areas of Kissing Bridge are open, while snowmaking continues to build on the natural stuff at the north area.
“Even though we’ve gotten 48 inches of snow, we have made snow continuously throughout this whole event. We want to make a solid base,” Halter said.
The plan is to have the entire area open next weekend.
“Pre-Christmas, the demand for skiing is positive but it’s not like the day after Christmas,” Halter explained. “There’s a lot of activities that take precedence.”
No doubt some of the skiers and boarders on the hills at Kissing Bridge today are students enjoying a snow day off from school.
Several local districts were closed today, including Orchard Park, Springville-Griffith, Pioneer, East Aurora, Hamburg, Eden, Iroquois, Lake Shore and North Collins.
And in a job posting with exceptional timing, Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo says that the county needs more than a dozen plow drivers to fill a staff shortage with the county Department of Public Works.
“The county is seeking to hire 15 seasonal drivers to cover the five districts that we are responsible for plowing during snow events," he said. “Erie County needs to be properly prepared to handle snow removal, and I strongly encourage qualified applicants to inquire immediately.”
As the cold weather sets in, the Erie County Commissioner of Health is reminding residents of to dress warmly, not over exert and take precautions in heating their homes.
“Dealing with extreme cold and snow removal can put a tremendous strain on your body” Dr. Gale Burstein said in a statement, “Working in the cold, including snow shoveling or using a snow blower puts an added strain on your heart which can lead to heart attacks. Especially when you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, be sure to follow your personal physician’s advice before undertaking such strenuous activities.”
Additionally, she noted that a common cause of winter injuries is falling when walking on snow or ice covered surfaces, so she urged using a deicer to melt ice on walkways and wearing footwear such as boots with good tread.
Her other tips included:
• Keep adequate supplies on hand at home such as a three-day supply of nonperishable food, water, extra blankets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, one week supply of essential medications and flashlights with extra batteries.
• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, hand including a small amount of nonperishable food, especially if you are diabetic (granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky, water).
• Be aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, 500 people in the United States die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Never idle a car in the garage.
• Never sleep in rooms where unvented gasoline or kerosene heaters are present.