With a third band of lake effect snow expected to his the City of Buffalo, snow plow crews are continuing to work to stay ahead of the weather.
Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak said crews were out on city streets beginning at 3 a.m. this morning and will continue to work throughout the day. At a briefing to reporters just before noon on Friday, Stepniak said the goal has been to get salt spread ahead of the day’s commuter rush hours.
“Morning commutes are always affected if you have a lake effect band at that time, that’s why you want that material on the roadway early,” Stepniak explained. “This afternoon we were looking at that band to move back through, which it did, and it’s going to set up just north of the city right now. But when that cold front moves in around rush hour, we’re looking at more snow coming in. So the timing is usually to get the crews ahead of the snow, ahead of the rush hour and get material on the roadway.”
The lake effect storm is coinciding with two popular downtown events. The Buffalo Auto Show is in its second day and the Buffalo Sabres take on the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. at the First Niagara Center.
Stepniak said the city always pays attention to local events in the context of bad weather, and noted that more snow-clearing crews than normal were put on duty given the expected accumulation.
“Typically in an event like this we use 30 plus pieces on the road. We’ll use two or three or four pieces downtown when needed. We can elevate that to any number that we really need to really need to, as high as 40 if needed, and we can call crews in. We’re alright now with 30 plus on the roadway,” said Stepniak.
Fridays and weekends can often present a tougher task in snow clearing for city crews, with more residents home during the daytime and cars on the street. City crews will use high-lift snow removal equipment as needed, but Stepniak said it’s especially important that residents continue to cooperate with local parking restrictions.
“That is very helpful, especially on those narrow roadways when we’re trying to get access to those,” said Stepniak. “We’ve actually been into residential – some of them since 8 this morning and we want to continue that.”
The timeframe for seeing clear roads after the snowfall ends is dependent on a number of factors, according to Stepniak. He said city crews hope to have the work done within a 24 hour period, but 10 to 20 mile per hour winds, and gusts up to 35 miles per hour may extend that.
The wind is also expected to bring wind-chill values down to -20 degrees on Friday night and -25 degrees on Saturday, with a wind chill warning in effect from 5 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday. Stepniak said snow plow crews are well-prepared for frigid conditions.
“The men and women of the streets department are very familiar with these types of temperatures. My biggest concern is that the residents and folks prepare themselves – they dress accordingly, understand that you’re going to be dealing with some bitter cold temperatures and pay attention to that.”