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Holiday hazard: Travel banned and stores close as blizzard lashes region | Top Story

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BATAVIA — It rained first. Then it froze. And then the wind blew.

As traffic accidents, power outages and closures began piling up on Friday, state thruway officials issued one blunt piece of advice: “Stay off the road.”

It proved wise.

When ferocious storms hit the counties of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming, the blizzard predicted by meteorologists was as bad as they said. So it was too fast to tally.

As of Friday night, travel bans had been issued in Genesee, Orleans, and Erie counties, and a “no unnecessary travel” advisory had been issued in Wyoming county. The thruway from Henrietta West’s Exit 46 to the Pennsylvania border was closed to all traffic.

Multiple road closures and accidents were reported, especially in Genesee and Orleans counties. A state of emergency has been declared in Genesee County.

“For your safety and that of first responders and highway snow clearers this holiday weekend, please stay off the road until conditions improve,” Sheriff William Sheron Jr. said in a news release. .

Last-minute shopping trips, whether for Christmas gifts or storm supplies, were similarly impossible in some parts of the region. We closed all stores in Orleans, Wyoming, Erie and Niagara counties until 6 a.m. Monday.

bad weather

Temperatures in the 30s on Friday morning plummeted to single digits in the afternoon. Snow cover has been light so far, but strong winds have caused whiteouts and made driving impossible in some places.

The National Weather Service reported gusts of up to 79 mph at 10:10 a.m. at a location near Lackawanna.

Wind gusts exceeded 70 mph in several other locations in western New York, including a 71 mph gust in Warsaw at 1:30 p.m.

In Genesee County, the weather service reported 66 mph in Batavia at 12:50 p.m., 56 mph in Batavia at 12:54 p.m., and 54 mph in town of Alabama at 10:25 a.m.

A 54 mph peak gust was recorded near Medina at 9:40 a.m.

Temperatures recorded in Batavia were 9 degrees Celsius at 3pm, with frost on windshields and occasional inability to open car doors.

How extreme was it?

Batavia’s Route 63 and Veterans Memorial Drive, which are normally normal city runs, were closed due to inclement weather and other reasons. United Memorial Medical Center has issued an advisory that the hospital and its emergency department remain open.

However, no one other than first responders, snowplows, and similar crews should have been on the area’s highways.

emergency

A statewide state of emergency was declared at 6 a.m. Friday as ice, flooding, snow and freezing temperatures are expected over the weekend.

Gov. Kathy Hochul noted in her Friday afternoon briefing that there was a rapid freeze. According to the National Weather Service, flash freezing can quickly freeze wet roads when temperatures drop below freezing.

“It doesn’t defrost for at least 24 hours,” says Hochul. “This is what makes the roads so dangerous. There is very little time between rain and icing for snowplows and crews to salt the roads. It creates an extremely dangerous situation.”

On Friday afternoon, the governor said his focus was on western New York.

“We are watching in real time a blinding blizzard, a dangerous, life-threatening wind that is sweeping through western New York at this very moment. We’ve come and we’ve arrived – we’re kicking people off the road,” she said.

Thursday’s commercial vehicle driving ban has been extended to all roads in areas such as Erie County.

“Some roads, National Routes 219, 400, 290, and 190, are strictly closed, prohibiting commercial traffic on the Peace Bridge,” Ho-chul said. “The roads are icy. Your tires can’t handle this. ) already had a jackknife truck, and what that meant was paralyzing the rest of the traffic behind it.”

This is a time when it can be threatening to individuals, especially those who were unprepared, Ho-chul said.

“If you’re going to be on the road, or you have to be on the road, make sure you have sandbags, kitten litter, and anything you need to put under the tires. Out,” she said. “A flashlight, food, water, and a blanket. This is how you should travel in winter in New York State. I hope people heed that warning, but the driver could be stranded.” Because of this, the state police have been deployed to pay attention to those who need help.”

She said the rapid freezing and icy roads weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“This is going to be an event that runs into the weekend. The wind chill is absolutely bone-chilling,” she said.

Early Friday afternoon there were more than 100,000 power outages that crews were trying to restore as soon as possible.

“That’s why we brought in utility crews from other parts of the country to strengthen our force. We needed more than 7,000 utility crews to restore power,” she said. Told. “A limb drops. It takes power lines above ground. It’s dangerous even for utility crews to get close to it in a blinding snowstorm.”

As such, power restoration will not be possible soon, the governor said.

“That is why we are asking people to stay safe at home, but we know that very cold situations can occur. “I don’t have the power to turn on the stove or anything. It’s going to be dangerous,” she said.

The governor said her message to New Yorkers was simple.

“This is a life-threatening and dangerous event,” she said. “Please do not travel until roads are reopened and you know it is safe. Your life and the lives of your loved ones come first.

“This storm will pass,” she continued. “Finally, we are cleaning up. We want to make sure we’re not in a catastrophic situation at home for people using

Includes reports by Ben Beagle, Brian Quinn, and Matt Surtel.

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