Tonawanda News — Now it's our turn.
As the blizzard of 2014 settled in over the Southtowns much of the overnight, a band has moved north, prompting driving bans and states of emergency to be declared in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda Tuesday afternoon.
Visibility is 1/4-mile or less — sometimes far less — across much of the area.
"It really started deteriorating. I've been out in the town, and this morning, the roads were clear," Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana said. "A few hours later, with the drifting, whiteouts and extremely bad visibility, we thought we'd do the state of emergency to keep people off the roads."
Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang said police patrol cars began reporting whiteout conditions in the afternoon, which led to the travel advisory in the village.
"We waited, but as time went on, things got worse," he said. "Most people are abiding by the ban and trying to stay off the streets, which gives us a lot of opportunity to plow."
Ken-Ton is on the northern end of the band with much of the Twin Cities to the north avoiding the heaviest snow but relegated to the driving winds, more than 30 mph sustained with gusts as high as 50, as of now. The National Weather Service said the northern band is expected to travel back south after nightfall offering Ken-Ton residents a reprieve.
"We're hoping to lift the advisory later tonight or tomorrow morning as it moves south," Caruana said. "We'll keep on eye on it, but now, we just want everyone to stay safe."
In addition to the Ken-Ton driving ban, the length of I-190 from the Youngmann south to the mainline Thruway has been closed. The Thruway has been closed since Monday night from Lackawanna south to the Pennsylvania line; it has also been closed from I-390 in Rochester to Depew, more than 100 miles of the 90 in all.
Tonight's Buffalo Sabres game against the Carolina Hurricanes has also been postponed, the team said Tuesday afternoon, though there is not a driving ban presently in effect for the City of Buffalo.
It's not likely the storm will let up until early Wednesday, weather officials are warning.
"The main story is that it is going to be extremely windy and cold," Tom Paone, of the National Weather Service, said. "We're looking at windchill values that could hit 30 below zero."
Temperatures have hovered in the single digits for the day.
"It's really the combination of three things, wind, snow and extreme cold," Paone said. "There will be some difficult driving conditions, and you're going to have near zero visibility."
The National Weather Service has issued wind chill warning that will be in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday, and a blizzard warning until 6 a.m. Wednesday. By Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, the winds and snowfall should begin to slow down.
"Monday night through Tuesday night will be the worst of it," Paone said.
North Tonawanda, the City of Tonawanda and Ken-Ton schools closed Tuesday. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has also issued a travel advisory and warned residents to stay at home unless driving is absolutely necessary. All county government offices and services are also closed Tuesday.
The Erie County Department of Health issued a statement warning residents to be cautious about heating their homes if the weather causes power outages.
“Everyone needs to be mindful of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning,” Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said in the statement. “Improper use of generators or portable space heaters can silently poison you and your family without your knowledge."
Portable generators should not be left inside, and they should be at least 20 feet away from the home. Ovens, charcoal grills and camp stoves should not be used in the house.
Space heaters can get hot enough to ignite nearby papers, draperies and the carpet. The batteries in carbon monoxide monitors should be checked or changed every six months.
If the detector sounds, residents should leave their home immediately and call 911.
"Every year, 500 people in the U.S. die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning," Burstein said. "The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before ever having symptoms."
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.