Niagara Gazette — As one of the strongest and coldest winter storms in recent memory descended upon Western New York Monday evening, officials in the city of Niagara Falls were discussing their preparedness plans and keeping close tabs on the latest weather forecasts.
At the start of Monday's 5 p.m. city council meeting — as wind howled outside a snow-swept City Hall — Mayor Paul Dyster and City Administrator Donna Owens briefed lawmakers on the city's plans for dealing with the storm which prompted blizzard warnings in other parts of the region and forced the closure of most major local roadways, including the I-90 from Williamsville to the Pennsylvania state line.
"We are in the bullseye (of the storm) as of about five minutes ago," Dyster told lawmakers just minutes into the meeting. "We'll keep an eye on that and we will respond accordingly."
As it turned out, by the time the council broke for a brief recess following its evening agenda review, the wicked weather system had shifted south, away from Niagara Falls. By meeting's end — around 7 p.m. — the blistering wind and accompanying sub-zero wind chill remained but the snow drifts had somewhat diminished.
The rest of the region was not as fortunate. At 7 p.m., Cuomo issued a state of emergency for all of Western New York, except Niagara County, and much of the area found itself under its first blizzard warning since 1993. States of emergency were declared in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Monroe, Oneida, Orleans, Oswego, Wayne and Wyoming counties. Cuomo also activated the state Emergency Operations Center.
Starting at 8 p.m., all vehicles heading west on the Thruway were being detoured off the highway at Exit 50 and all eastbound traffic will be detoured at Exit 61.
According to the Associated Press, motorists to Pennsylvania and points west were being asked to exit the Thruway at Exit 46 near Rochester to Interstate 390 and then to Interstate 86 westbound into Pennsylvania.