Local
4:48 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Heavy Lake Snows causing whiteout conditions downtown

Strong winds are whipping across downtown Buffalo Monday,  causing white out conditions and near zero visibility at times.  

Lake Effect snow in downtown Buffalo
Lake Effect snow in downtown Buffalo
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

WBFO’S Eileen Buckley traveled right to the shoreline of Lake Erie at the Erie Basin Marina as the strong winds blasted snow into downtown Buffalo. 

“It was pretty desolate as the storm moved off Lake Erie as the storm moved in,” said Buckley.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz met with several county agencies Monday to discuss plans to combat winter storm conditions.

Lake Erie at Erie Basin Marina.
Lake Erie at Erie Basin Marina.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Health, Emergency Services, and Public Works attended the meeting.

A travel advisory is currently in effect for all of Erie County.

The county’s Emergency Operations Center located in Cheektowaga has also been opened, but it will be fully operational Monday night. Poloncarz is asking people to dress properly when going outdoors.

City snow equipment out on downtown streets Monday.
City snow equipment out on downtown streets Monday.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

“Three feet of snow, we kind of laugh at, we can handle three feet of snow, but when you include it with the exceptionally low temperatures, which in some parts of the county will be below 30,  we want people to know that this is a significant weather event that is life threatening. This is no joke,” said Poloncarz.

Erie County Sheriff’s Chief Scott Patronik says they're asking people to stay off roadways.

“We ask people not to travel. We’re asking people to stay home, and if you are on the roads use extreme caution,” said Patronik.

Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Gale Burstein warns people to stay indoors and make sure their carbon monoxide detectors are operational.

“These extremely cold temperatures can cause serious and sometimes irreversible damage to your body, such as frost bite, which is damage to tissue organs or hypothermia, which is a drop in body temperature that can cause severe neurologic effects and even kill people,” said Burstein.

Erie County officials join County Executive Mark Poloncarz to prepare for winter storm conditions.
Erie County officials join County Executive Mark Poloncarz to prepare for winter storm conditions.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Burstein says people should wait until the weather warms up to shovel their driveways and sidewalks.

"Play it safe, play it smart. In these extreme temperatures where do you have to go anyway that you need a clean driveway, stay indoors," said Burstein.

Poloncarz says the county will ramp up operations as necessary. He adds that all Erie County offices and services will be closed to the public Tuesday, however personnel are expected to report.

"The most important thing that the public can do is be smart. Stay in doors and don't go outside if you don't have to," said Poloncarz.

A State of Emergency has been issued in the city of Lackawanna due to the severe weather.