Tonawanda News

November 27, 2013

Winter wakeup?

First significant snow expected to hit the region

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The first snowstorm of the season is set to cause slick roads and low visibility for the many Tonawanda residents who are set to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, weather officials predicted Tuesday. 

The storm — which has caused flight delays and car accidents across the Northeast — began to hit the region Tuesday afternoon. Kirk Apffel, of the National Weather Service Buffalo office, said the Tonawandas will see four to eight inches of snowfall. 

“Most of it is coming tonight, but some of it will come tomorrow,” he said. 

The snow will hamper travel on Wednesday, which marks the busiest driving and flying day for the holiday. Visibility conditions could be as low as half a mile. 

“It’s obviously going to have an impact on people driving for the holidays. It is going to be difficult to travel in all of Western New York,” Apfell said. 

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, the warning will expire and conditions should clear up for the holiday. Some wind is expected Wednesday night, however.

“It will be pretty windy on Wednesday night, but not as much in the Tonawanda area when compared to other areas in the state,” Apffel said. “The snow will have tapered off, so we likely won’t have any drifting conditions.”

Local officials in charge of keeping the roads clear said Tuesday that their crews are fully prepared and that the storm is nothing out of the ordinary. 

“Everything’s ready, and we basically just checked it all over,” Town of Tonawanda Highway Superintendent William Swanson said. “Seriously, this is Western New York, this is what we deal with — no big deal. The salt is here, if we get an inch we’re fine, we get a foot, we’re fine.”

Swanson said they may call extra workers in Tuesday night depending on how much snow falls, a sentiment mirrored by North Tonawanda DPW Chief Brad Rowles, who noted that crews have triple-checked equipment and stocked up on salt storage for the upcoming season. 

“We’ve been preparing for this for weeks,” Rowles said. 

National Grid is also assembling its resources for the possibility of downed power lines over the holidays, with the expectation of heavy snows and the chance for high winds and gusts up to 45 mph on Wednesday. 

The company said it has fortified additional crews for deployment to “key areas” of its service territory and has readied equipment in case of weather severe enough to cause power outages, while also contacting municipal officials throughout the region.

And while snow accumulation will vary widely across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York State Police will initiate “special traffic enforcement” including undercover police vehicles on Wednesday that will supplement patrols and focus on aggressive and impaired drivers.  

“This operation will prevent needless and unnecessary accidents from occurring during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and ultimately help ensure that everyone reaches their destinations safely,” Cuomo said, in a statement released Tuesday.