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Friday storm updates

4:24 p.m.: Staff Reporter Stephen T. Watson found out what caused the mess on South Park Avenue earlier today.

4:19 p.m.: Check out the scene in South Buffalo this morning and afternoon in the aftermath of the storm:

2:46 p.m.: The News' Harry Scull Jr. was on South Park Avenue when it was clogged earlier this afternoon (see earlier posts). Here's what it looked like from his vantage point:

South park

1:45 p.m.: The Buffalo Fire Department is out clearing snow from around fire hydrants in South Buffalo. Right now, crews are at South Park and Good avenues.

1:42 p.m.: South Park Avenue near the Buffalo-Lackawanna line is no longer a parking lot.

Whatever was causing the delays earlier this afternoon is gone, and traffic is moving relatively easily in both directions. It had been bumper-to-bumper with little movement of traffic for a couple hours.

I just drove from Ridge Road up South Park, past Tifft Street, and what had been around a 3-inch sheet of snow and ice has melted down -- in a lot of spots -- to bare, wet pavement.

If you need to use this as part of your route, it will be a little slow, but not like it was earlier.

11:44 a.m.: South Park Avenue in South Buffalo is a mess right now. Avoid it at all costs. I'm walking now near the Post Office near Woodside, and traffic in both directions is barely moving -- if at all. I'll keep you posted.

9:57 a.m.: The ride down Ridge Road towards Route 5 in Lackawanna was a lot smoother than the drive down Abbott Road, but it was still slightly bumpy due to a layer of ice and snow. Heading downtown on Route 5 remains free, clear and up-to-speed.

9:25 a.m.: Driving down Abbott Road from South Park Avenue toward Lackawanna is a rough ride. There's a bumpy base of ice, snow and slush that shook my car for most of that stretch of road. There were several cars parked along Abbott plowed in and completely buried in snow. The ride became a lot smoother once I got into Lackawanna.

9:11 a.m.: And how does that lake effect form? Most Western New Yorkers know all too well, but if you're trying to explain it to the kids, here's a handy interactive from the Associated Press.

9:04 a.m.: The News' Maki Becker just filed this report on what the National Weather Service sees happening today and into next week. It looks like ski country will get the lake effect today, leaving South Buffalo and the Southtowns some time to dig out. Starting Sunday, a general snowfall is expected to hit the entire area.

9:02 a.m.: Tifft Street was in good shape getting off Route 5 until I reached Hopkins Street. Between Hopkins and South Park Avenue, Tifft is covered in a layer of snow, ice and slush.Heading inbound on South Park, the road is still covered with snow and slush, but  it's in better shape than Tifft.

8:35 a.m.: By the time you get to the City of Buffalo line on northbound Route 5, you're at full speed. That has basically been the story all morning long.

8:33 a.m.: One thing you'll notice as you drive around this morning is the amount of ice still on some roadways. It's not black ice -- you can definitely see, and feel, it. It will slow you down and make for a rough ride at times.

8:31 a.m.: Once you get past the light at Noco on Route 5, speeds pick up. You'll be able to go 20 to 25 mph. Best to get in the left or middle lane; if you're in the right lane, you'll likely have to get over to avoid snowbanks.

8:22 a.m.: Heading from Exit 56 in Blasdell down Milestrip toward Route 5, I had no problems.

Once on Route 5, things are slow. I'm rolling along -- moving, but slowly. It took about five minutes for me to get from Milestrip to the Lackawanna city line headed north. At most, I'm going 10 mph. No sign of any accidents so far.

8:18 a.m.: Snowfall totals for the region range from 32.5 inches (Alden) to none (Niagara Falls).

8:12 a.m.: Donn Esmonde caught up with motorists who were stranded on the Thruway and were approached by con artists trying to sell them gas for $25 a gallon.

7:57 a.m.: Just got a good look at the 400 interchange with Transit Road.

If you're headed south on Transit Road, the entrance to the northbound 400 -- toward the Thruway -- remains closed. All other entrances to the 400 at Transit are open. So if you need to get on the northbound 400, you'll just have to find your way onto Transit heading north.

View Larger Map

7:51 a.m.: Although the Thruway is open, there are some tricky spots calling for smart, safe driving. One such location is the interchange with Route 400. If you're on the eastbound Thruway trying to get on the 400, the exit lane is full of snow pushed out of the other lanes. That makes it very difficult to get onto the ramp for the 400. Basically, you have to make that maneuver at the very last minute.

Then, the merge onto the 400 has its own set of problems. Snow-removal equipment blocks your view as you try to see traffic coming off the westbound Thruway. 

Be careful.

7:46 a.m.: A cruise down the freshly reopened Thruway showed very little out of the ordinary. Driving west from the 290 to the  Lackawanna toll barrier, traffic was up to speed. There are still some disabled trucks, but nothing that's affecting the drive.

7:39 a.m.: The drive into the city on Route 5 is slower than normal. On a drive on northbound Route 5 shortly after 7 a.m., traffic slowed down in Woodlawn -- just past Milestrip/Route 179. The stretch just past there, which is usually three lanes, is somewhat clogged by areas where the far-right lane is holding snow cleared from the other lanes; in some places, that's not a problem, but it does slow things down once you get past Bethlehem Park in Lackawanna.

Also hampering that drive around 7:15 a.m. was a tire in the right lane right around the Ridge Road overpass. Once you get past Ridge Road, the road is pretty much clear down to the pavement and the ride is up to speed the rest of the way downtown.

6:43 a.m.: Within the last hour, the Thruway has reopened. Go here for a look at Thursday night's cleanup efforts on the 90. Thruway Authority officials told The News that they were overwhelmed by the storm and vow to review their performance.

--Aaron Besecker

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