As much as two feet of snow is expected to fall in some parts of Western New York by tomorrow as Lake Effect snow bands that set up early Monday continued dropping heavy snow across the region during the day.
Stay tuned here with Buffalo News Live tonight as News Staff Reporter T.J. Pignataro provides updates on the weather and how it is affecting storm totals, traffic and utilities.
6:09 p.m. - The westbound New York State Thruway reopened to traffic after a multi-vehicle crash and poor road conditions forced the roadway's closure for about an hour. Westbound motorists exited the Thruway at Exit 57A, Eden/Angola.
6:43 p.m. - The National Weather Service's most recent update for northern Erie County, including the Buffalo metro area forecased that "light snow showers" were expected to spread eastward through about 7 p.m. Snow was expected to fall at amounts up to 1/4 inch per hour, coating untreated roadways.
6:53 p.m. - National Weather Service meteorologists report they are updating storm totals from across the region as we speak, so we should have updated numbers shortly. Meteorologists say this event is exclusively driven by the Lake Effect machine.
6:59 p.m. - The NWS issued a Special Weather Statement for Niagara and Orleans counties this hour reporting that lake effect snow was moving across northern and central Niagara County was moving into Orleans County as well. "Brief periods of moderate to heavy snow may cause significant restrictions to visibility including brief whiteout conditions." The areas affected include the cities of Niagara Falls, Medina as well as Barker and Waterport.
7:03 p.m. - The heavy snow does not seem to be affecting area utilities much. Only 12 NYSEG customers are without power in Erie County, including 9 in Cheektowaga, according to the utility company. National Grid reports 328 without power in Chautauqua County, including 304 in the town of Kiantone. There are also 74 out of power in Cattaraugus County, 73 of which are in East Otto.
7:12 p.m. - Chautauqua County Sheriff's dispatch reports that Interstate 86 westbound between Sherman and the Pennsylvania State Line is now closed because of "multiple accidents" related to the weather. Sheriff's officials said there were numerous accidents county-wide, none as of now proved fatal. Deputies are also cautioning motorists traveling on the Thruway through Chautauqua County to "travel at your own risk." Tow truck operators are telling deputies "they have no guarantees they can get anyone out there" to stranded motorists at this time because of the severe heavy snow that is falling.
7:18 p.m. - New Special Weather Steatement by NWS in Buffalo for Southern Erie County shows
HEAVY LAKE EFFECT SNOW TO CONTINUE ACROSS SOUTHERN ERIE COUNTY...A HEAVY LAKE EFFECT SNOW BAND WILL CONTINUE ACROSS SOUTHERN ERIE COUNTY...SOUTH OF HAMBURG AND EAST AURORA. SNOWFALL RATES OF 1 TO 1.5 INCHES PER HOUR WILL BE LIKELY ESPECIALLY FROM GOWANDA TO SPRINGVILLE. The heavy snow will "keep roads snow covered," the statement adds, reducing "visibilities to less than a quarter of a mile at times." Motorists traveling in these areas should remain aware of the road conditions. The heavy snow is expected to continue spreading eastward.
7:22 p.m. - News' Staff Reporter Matt Gryta reports Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies were continuing to investigate a single vehicle crash on West Perimeter Road in Steamburg about 1:15 p.m. Monday. An unidentified driver was reported to be "uninjured" when the vehicle "spun off the icy road and struck what was once operated as the Richards Smoke Shop building.
8:13 p.m. - National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Wood tells the News that cold temperatures are expected to prevail throughout the week with wind chills frequently below zero over the next two days.
8:38 p.m. - Said Wood: “It’s kind of like winter finally decided to show up.” The NWS Buffalo meteorologist explained that a large “upper level” trough was responsible for the wintry weather by ushering extremely cold air into the area. The cold air over the still open waters of lakes Erie and Ontario spells big time snowfall for those in the affected areas.
8:40 p.m. - “It’s a very cold airmass setting up over the lakes and the lakes are still open,” said Wood. “It’s certainly not out of the ordinary for January....The highest accumulation areas are going to be mainly east of Lake Ontario and, of course in our area, from the Southtowns on south.”
8:50 p.m. - Another accident report just in from this afternoon in Niagara County. Sheriff's deputies there reported at least one person had to be extricated from a vehicle after a 1:40 p.m. crash at Lockport-Olcott and Dale roads that involved two vehicles and a tractor-trailer. Lockport-Olcott Road, which is Route 78, was closed to traffic for about 90 minutes between Dale and McKee roads while emergency crews were at the scene. One person was taken to the Eastern Niagara Hospital in Newfane for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Here's a sample of some of the road conditions in the Southtowns, specifically Route 5 in the town of Evans about 4 p.m.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9SqmQBMxB8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
10:35 p.m. - Here's a link to the updated story we recently posted at BuffaloNews.com: http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130121/CITYANDREGION/130129854/1002
10:39 p.m. - Chautauqua County authorities report there were 36 weather-related accidents Monday.
10:43 p.m. - Fourth call to the NWS tonight. This time, for the snow total at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport... (Drum Roll, please): 0.5 inches.
10:45 p.m. - A Lake Effect Snow Warning for Chautauqua and Southern Erie counties remains in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Snowfall rates of up to 2 inches per hour could fall in the most persistent snow bands, the NWS reports.
10:48 p.m. - In Mayville, the seat of Chautauqua County government, up to 10 inches of snow is possible overnight followed by up to 8 more Tuesday and 5 more than that Tuesday night. 10+5+8= 23 inches possible over the next 24 hours.
10:54 p.m. - Environment Canada reports it's currently -13 C in Toronto, or about 9 degrees Fahrenheit. On the Sabres bus headed home with a 2-1 win? Sunny and clear.
11:00 p.m. - Some late night reports from the News' Matt Gryta, who has been in touch with local police agencies tonight:
"Other than Chautauqua County which reported 36 weather-caused vehicular accidents countywide with minor injuries in a few since about 7 a.m. today, and Cattaraugus County reporting snow-covered roadways but no accidents other than a one-car incident in Steamburg early in the afternoon, other counties reported routine winter weather conditions on roadways.
Genesee County dispatch reported roads "getting icy" late this evening, but no accidents. Wyoming County dispatch reported "pretty quiet" road conditions, Orleans County dispatch reported some reports of slippery roads but no accidents or road problems and Allegany and Livingston counties reported no problems because the storm bands seemed to miss those areas.
Niagara County tonight reported a couple of road accidents but "nothing major."
11:03 p.m. - A message from the Buffalo City Mission:
"The Buffalo City Mission issued a Code Blue alert in the midst of single-digit wind chills Sunday night, and more can be expected as frigid temperatures continue this week.
From 8 p.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. today, the mission opened its warming center at 150 E. North St., offering food, shelter and clothing for those who need it.
St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, 325 Walden Ave., also is participating in the alert.
The Code Blue is in effect on nights between Nov. 15 and March 15 when temperatures are expected to dip below 10 degrees – or below zero degrees with wind chill – or when there is a National Weather Service-declared blizzard.
For more information, call the Buffalo City Mission at 854-8181."
11:06 p.m. - Current Conditions at the BNIA: 12 degrees, West Winds at 10 mph, gusts to 21 mph. Wind Chill: minus-1.
11:19 p.m. - Been holding out to provide updates on any latest snow totals before the night's out, however, NWS says spotters yet to call in new reports. It'll be a deep Winter Wonderland come dawn in many parts south of Buffalo.
11:21 p.m. - Check out all editions of Tuesday's Buffalo News for complete coverage of the weather as well as today's Inauguration Day festivities in Washington, D.C. and the Sabres 2-0 start to the 2013 season. Also, stay tuned to BuffaloNews.com all day Tuesday for frequent updates on weather, news and sports!
From One News Plaza, downtown, this is T.J. Pignataro signing off. Be safe out there.