By Michael Regan
Niagara Gazette — As the flu continues to grip the nation, Western New Yorkers will have another challenge on their hands with frigid temperatures moving in for the remainder of the week.
With banks, schools and government offices closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, many area streets seemed empty, as residents huddled inside to avoid the frigid weather.
Dan Kelly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said the region will continue to have single-digit temperatures through Thursday, with lows near 7 degrees on Tuesday and highs in the mid-teens.
A cold air mass moving southward from Canada will cause mild wind gusts up to 20 mph today, according to Kelly, who said that a low-pressure system will also bring light flurries and 1 to 2 inches of snow in the Buffalo area. North and south of the city, accumulation will be more significant, with nearly a foot of snow.
Kelly said that as the those temperatures remain, residents both young and old should prepare, including bundling up and avoiding the outdoors when possible.
"All I can say is that you need to take precautions no matter who you are," he said. "Wear several layers of clothing and a hat and gloves. Keep an eye on the elderly and the young too."
Lake Erie, with a current temperature of 36 degrees will likely not freeze this week, Kelly said, though several days of below normal weather could bring it closer to the tipping point, and cause areas near the shoreline to build ice. Kelly said that based off historical records, the lake most often freezes in February, which appears to be the case in 2013 as well, while the chance of lake effect snow looms.
January has is 8.2 degrees above average thus far, while December was 6.2 degrees above the median, Kelly added.
National Fuel also issued a warning for customers on Monday to keep a watchful eye on the threat of carbon monoxide, as resident enter the heart of the winter season and heating systems are maxed out.
The odorless gas can be fatal if large amounts of it are inhaled over a long period of time and can also lead to brain damage, according to Emily Ciraol of National Fuel.
"We always see at least a few cases each year," she said. "Especially as it gets colder and people tend to turn their heating systems up. It's important to have a carbon monoxide detector. It's just as important as having a smoke detector."
And as the flu continues to spread across the U.S., with Gov. Andrew Cuomo declaring a public health emergency last week, the Niagara County Health Department said it is running low on supplies for those seeking inoculations. However, the county's nursing division will offer a flu vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to npoThursday at the Trott Access Center in Niagara Falls. The cost of the vaccine is $34. To schedule an appointment call 278-1903.