Niagara Gazette

January 3, 2014

Dealing with the latest frigid blast

Staff and wire reports
Niagara Gazette

— The Western New York area was hit by a blast of frigid weather Friday, closing most of the region's schools, and another cold weather system is now on its way.

As of Friday afternoon, the low was 0 degrees, barely missing the record of minus 1, which was set in 1981. But National Weather Service officials said the area could hit or surpass the record Friday night after dark. 

Subzero wind chills were recorded on Friday. Between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., when most school districts announced a snow day, the windchill was anywhere between minus 10 and minus 15.

"At 6:54 a.m., the windchill was minus 16," Jim Mitchell, of the National Weather Service, said. "I'm sure it got down to minus 20."

Both the downtown library and the LaSalle library were closed in Niagara Falls on Friday as were the John Duke Senior Center and the LaSalle facility on Colvin Boulevard. 

Mayor Paul Dyster said both branches of the city's libraries were expected to be open for regular hours today, following furnace repairs at the Earl W. Brydges branch on Main Street.

The weather kept city snow plow crews busy throughout the day Thursday and overnight into Friday. Unlike a late December blast that prompted complaints from residents who felt the city's snow-removal response was lax, Dyster said this round of snow did not fall as quickly or in as high a volume, allowing the Department of Public Works to keep a better pace to it. 

By mid-day Friday, most roads, including side streets, were visited by city plow drivers. 

"We didn't get as much snow and the snow that we got came steadily over a longer period of time instead of suddenly at one period of time," Dyster said. 

In total, 6.8 inches of snow fell between New Year's Day and Friday as part of the winter storm Hercules. Although the wind chill advisory expired Friday at noon, another one was issued between 9 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

The weekend is then forecasted to warm up, with temperatures rising into the upper 20s and near 30s Saturday.

"Another storm system — not lake effect — will come toward us Saturday night and bring us some snow on Sunday," Mitchell said.

Lake effect snow will fall Monday and Tuesday, and another cold weather system will come through. 

"Tuesday will be very cold and will be a repeat of today, if not a touch colder," Mitchell said Friday. 

Other parts of the state and northeast were hard hit by cold and snow as well. 

In New York City, with temperatures forecast to drop to single digits Friday night, city officials and advocates for the homeless were urging them to head to shelters. Newly installed Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with residents to keep an eye out.

After the year's first snowstorm dumped anywhere from 6 inches in New York City to 19 upstate, officials turned their attention to protecting people from bitterly cold temperatures.

In the upstate town of Byron, a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease walked out of her home Thursday while her husband slept. He later followed her footsteps in the snow and found her frozen to death.

Two people were killed in highway accidents believed to be weather-related: a man from Troy on the Adirondack Northway and a woman on the Southern State Parkway in Babylon.

In Manhattan, police said, a Dodge truck was stolen as its owner was shoveling snow. He had left the truck running, and a man with a gun told him to back away from it, then drove it off.

Flights resumed in and out of Kennedy Airport on Friday morning after being suspended due to poor visibility and blowing snow. About 750 flights had been canceled at the three New York-area airports.



Tonawanda News reporter Jessica Bagley contributed to this report.