BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Locals spent most of Thursday — and probably Wednesday night too — shoveling and brushing off snow as winter’s first major storm dumped seven to 11 inches on Niagara County.
Traffic slowed down considerably, aside from some minor incidents, no major traffic accidents were reported. NYSEG and National Grid reported there were no outages locally. With schools already closed for the holiday break, some spent Thursday sledding down hills at the Lockport Town & Country Club and Roy B. Kelley Elementary on East High Street.
Lockport saw 11 inches of snow during the storm, most of which fell between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 1 to 2 a.m. Thursday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock. The majority of the snow fell during the early morning hours, at about one to two inches per hour.
A winter storm warning had been issued at about 4 p.m. Wednesday for all of Western New York. The snowfall totals were pretty much equal throughout the region, although South Wales had the highest total with 15 inches of snow.
”It was pretty common across Western New York,” Hitchcock said. “Most were in the eight to 12 inch range.”
Eight inches of snow fell in Niagara Falls, while North Tonawanda saw about 10.2 inches. Pendleton recorded 10.4 inches of snow. Wind led to a lot of blowing and drifting snow in open areas, mainly the rural areas.
The storm dropped the largest snowfall total on the region in more than a year. The last time the Buffalo weather service office recorded more than half a foot of snow in one day was in March 2011 and there hasn’t been a double-digit snowfall since December 2008.
Norman D. Allen, city director of engineering and public works, said a small crew was brought in at about 6 p.m. Wednesday to start salting city streets. The department then waited until 11 p.m., so traffic would be minimal, then brought the entire crew in to plow. Workers kept going until 9 a.m. Thursday, then a smaller group took over.
“Went pretty well, haven’t received any complaints,” Allen said. “Waiting until 11 p.m. helped, there was a lot of snow.”
The two-man midnight crew took over late Thursday. City sidewalks will be cleared today, Allen said.
Mother Nature had minimal effect on the Metro bus schedule, as most were on or pretty close to schedule, said C. Douglas Hartmayer, director of public affairs for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
“I took the bus in this morning, we were right on time,” he said. “There were a couple that were behind.”
The Buffalo Niagara International Airport saw some delayed and canceled flights, but that was because of what was going on in the rest of the country. The airport’s main runway was open, Hartmayer said.
Dubbed Winter Storm Euclid by the National Weather Service, the storm system started off in the Midwest earlier this week. It blew through the Northeast Wednesday night, but had reduced some before reaching the east coast.
This weekend should see normal temperatures with little precipitation, Hitchcock said. Today is expected to be dry, following a possible freezing drizzle in the early morning hours, then temperatures should be in the upper 20s and lower 30s, which is expected for late December. A much weaker storm system will bring light snow on Saturday.
“Not a big deal though, it’s an inch at most,” Hitchcock said.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.