Niagara Gazette

January 7, 2014

Falls dodging harshest snows so far

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

In terms of snow, the City of Niagara Falls and surrounding communities in Niagara County emerged relatively unscathed Tuesday.

There was, however, no escaping the frigid temperatures and bone-chilling wind chills that accompanied one of the strongest blasts of winter weather to hit Western New York in years. 

The Polar Vortex that gripped much of the United States, hammered Buffalo, neighboring suburbs and communities in the Southern Tier with blizzard-like conditions highlighted by driving snow, high winds and wind chills that at times reached well into the negative 30s. 

Aside from a brief period at around 5 p.m. Monday, the city of Niagara Falls experienced only trace amounts of snow. 

The lake effect snow band that bombed much of the Southern Tier overnight drifted to the north by noon Tuesday, causing hazardous driving conditions in Metro Buffalo, Cheektowaga, the Tonawandas and other Northtowns.

In the Falls, while the harsh winds and severe wind chills remained, hardly a flake could be found. 

Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist with the weather service in Buffalo, said all indications were that the favorable trend would continue for the Falls throughout the day and into Wednesday. Hitchcock said the Falls and neighboring communities in Niagara County may experience some residual snowfall, but the bulk of the storm would remain in Erie County and parts south. 

"You'll probably see a few flakes in the Falls," he said.

The winds and accompanying wind chills were expected to continue through the evening, but Hitchcock said the winds were forecast to gradually diminish after midnight and temperatures would slowly begin to rise by Wednesday. 

"All indications are that it will begin a slow, southward drift throughout this evening," he added. 

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday in Erie, Genesee and Wyoming counties and a lake effect snow warning will last remain for the same time period in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

A wind chill warning for all of Western New York, including Niagara County, is set to end at 6 p.m. today. 

Despite the high winds overnight, the city had no power outages as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to Mayor Paul Dyster.  

"We're obviously watching very closely for any changes in wind direction and weather patterns," Dyster said, referring to the trajectory of the snow band.

Roads were generally passable in Niagara Falls throughout the morning Tuesday. Dyster noted that, as has been the case in other parts of Western New York, road crews have not been applying road salt as they would under normal snowy conditions as the salt loses effectiveness once it reaches the sub-zero conditions. 

"I think at this point people just need to be very careful when it comes to icy road conditions," Dyster said.