By Neale Gulley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Road crews in North Tonawanda were readying plows Wednesday evening as about two inches of snow had already fallen in the Twin Cities by 7 p.m., with much more in the forecast.
The storm, expected to drop as much as a foot on the area by this morning, is expected to taper off by midday.
But North Tonawanda Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Rowles and his crew spent much of the day on Wednesday — about nine hours — prepping and staging equipment for the most significant storm this year.
”They were all watching the weather and trying to prepare,” Rowles said. “We took all our salters today and lined them up in the building ... so when Mother Nature acts we’re able to react.”
Rowles said salt was put down on city roads in anticipation of snow in recent days and weeks, and while those storms resulted in less snow than was originally expected, the salt already applied was nevertheless keeping flakes from sticking Wednesday afternoon.
”We had a very light start to winter but we had a couple events in the last couple days so we have a salt layer down,” he said. “(It) left a residual so as soon as it started to fall, it’s had an impact. With the snow not forming a hard pack on the roads, the roads should clear pretty quickly.”
Rowles said he ordered about 700 tons of road salt on Wednesday, in anticipation of this week’s snow. But while that sounds like a lot, he said it should be enough to enter the New Year with a full reserve — all paid for in 2012 — and a head start on 2013.
In other words, the city should remain under-budget where expensive salt reserves are concerned.
In addition to plowing overnight, he said a new “scoop plow” will likely be employed for the first time to clear streets in the Webster Street/downtown area.
The special plow connects to either a truck or a loader, he said, and should help crews clear snow without simply pushing it onto the sidewalk. Instead, he said snow can be moved to the Manhattan Street parking lot.
”It would save the business owners a lot of grief not having to clear the sidewalks and it could save us not having to go back,” he said.
The snow also causes trouble for motorists, though accidents reported in the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda early Wednesday evening were slim to none. Along the Thruway between Buffalo and Syracuse, at least 25 minor mishaps, including cars that slipped over the shoulder, were reported by police in a span of about two hours.
City of Tonawanda police dispatch said one car reportedly hit pole and fled the scene, though the incident may not have been weather related.
In North Tonawanda, no weather related accidents were reported as of 8:30 p.m.
On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent out a press release Wednesday announcing he had activated a statewide emergency response plan, and called on utility companies throughout the state to prepare for outages.
“Utilities that are licensed to operate in New York have a responsibility to ratepayers and to the public to be prepared for predictable weather events. The state of New York will hold your company accountable for its performance,” reads an excerpt from Cuomo’s secretary, Larry Schwartz, to the CEOs of six utility companies including Thomas King, president of National Grid.
”I want to make sure you are taking every action necessary to reduce the likelihood of power outages that could result from this storm, and to be prepared for any outages that do occur with a sound communications and restoration plan.”Contact city editor Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 4114