Cold, snowy weekend on tap for WNY

A Fredonia salt truck is out this morning at Chestnut and Main streets.

With Chautauqua County expected to receive significant snowfall, frigid temperatures, and heavy wind this weekend, Chautauqua County Officials are reminding residents to please use caution.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo Friday morning has a Winter Weather Warning in effect for all of Western New York including Chautauqua County from midday Saturday through 6 p.m. Sunday. Heavy snow is expected tonight with periods of one inch per hour snowfall rates. Snowfall is then expected to transition to lake effect snow Sunday, with widespread blowing snow tonight through Sunday night totaling between 9-18 inches. Sunday night to Monday will see low temperatures with dangerous wind chills nearing -16 degrees in Dunkirk and -17 degrees in Jamestown.

A number of area high school sporting events have already been cancelled, as well as tonight’s Fredonia State’s hockey game against Brockport.

State Police are advising against any travel during the worst of the storm. In a release issued Friday, the agency notes: “Troopers will be out in force during the storm to provide assistance, will be working closely and coordinating with local Emergency Operations Centers as needed, and are prepared for the potential increase in storm-related service calls.

“Motorists who must travel in the areas impacted by the snow are asked to leave with extra time to make a slow and careful drive to your destination. Take into consideration snow accumulation on the roads, the current snowfall rate, the wind, and visibility. Use your best judgment to determine if driving is prudent.”

Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone is also reminding drivers to use caution. “It is always best to plan ahead and account for extra travel time if you absolutely must drive during adverse weather conditions,” he said.

Drivers are reminded to:

¯ Postpone or cancel non-essential trips if travel conditions are hazardous and obey travel bans;

¯ Clean off all snow and ice from their vehicles by making sure snow and frost is removed from the windshield, windows and side mirrors; compacted snow is removed from the wheel wells; and snow is removed from the headlights and taillights so other drivers can see you.

¯ Reduce their speeds when roads are slick or visibility is reduced and turn on their headlights so other drivers can see you;

¯ Keep parked vehicles off the roadways and shoulders of the road.

¯ Remember to bring a cell phone when travelling so it can be used in case of an emergency;

¯ Call the Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement agencies to notify them if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road;

¯ Keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.

The Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Division of Transportation will also be out plowing and salting county-owned roads.

“While county plow operators are attempting to clear and make our roadways safe, I encourage drivers to please not add to the hazards of wintertime driving,” said Brad Bentley, Department of Public Facilities Director. “Drivers should always use extra caution near snowplows by reducing their speed and keeping a safe distance of at least 200 feet.”

“By planning ahead if you must travel, and giving our plow drivers and emergency crews the space needed to best perform their jobs we can avoid most dangers of winter travel,” said George Borrello, Chautauqua County Executive. “I also urge residents to check in on neighbors, especially the elderly who may be more at risk during heavy snow events and frigid temperatures.”

Significant snowfall and the potential for blowing and drifting snow can also increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If snow blocks furnace or hot water tank vents, it can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate indoors which can cause suffocation, loss of consciousness, brain damage or death.

“It is important that individuals protect themselves and their families from carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure they have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes and by ensuring furnace and hot water tank vents are not blocked by snow, and portable generators are places outside away from windows and doors if they must be used,” said John Griffith, Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services Director. “Also, ensure your house numbers are cleaned off on both sides, so emergency crews can easily locate the correct residence should you or a neighbor need assistance.”