By Michael Regan
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — As the flu continues to grip the nation, Western New Yorkers will have another challenge on their hands, with frigid temperatures moving in for the remainder of the week.
With banks, schools and government offices closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, many of Lockport’s streets seemed empty, as residents huddled inside to avoid the frigid weather.
Dan Kelly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said the region will continue to have single-digit temperatures through Thursday, with lows near 7 degrees on Tuesday and highs in the mid-teens.
A cold air mass moving southward from Canada will cause mild wind gusts up to 20 mph today, according to Kelly, who said that a low pressure system will also bring light flurries and 1 to 2 inches of snow in the Buffalo area. North and south of Buffalo, accumulation will be more significant, with nearly a foot of snow along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
Kelly said that as the those temperatures remain, residents both young and old should prepare for the repercussions, including bundling up and avoiding the outdoors when possible.
“All I can say is that you need to take precautions no matter who you are,” he said. “Wear several layers of clothing and a hat and gloves. Keep an eye on the elderly and the young too.”
Lake Erie, with a current temperature of 36 degrees will likely not freeze this week, Kelly said, though several days of below normal weather could bring it closer to the tipping point, and cause areas near the shoreline to build ice. Kelly said that based off historical records, the lake most often freezes in February, which appears to be the case in 2013 as well, while the chance of lake effect snow looms.
By contrast, Lake Ontario doesn’t freeze because it is far deeper than its Great Lake sister.
A lake effect snow watch is in effect today through Wednesday morning along the southern shoreline of Lake Ontario from Niagara County to Wayne County. Snow accumulations of 6-12 inches are expected.
According to the weather service, areas along the southern shoreline could receive 3-5 inches of snow today, with another 4-7 inches tonight and an additional 2 inches Wednesday.
It will be windy, too, with wind speeds between 10-20 mph, creating poor visibility and slick, snow-covered roads in some areas.
January has been 8.2 degrees above average thus far, while December was 6.2 degrees above the median, Kelly added.
National Fuel also issued a warning for customers on Monday to keep a watchful eye on the threat of carbon monoxide, as residents enter the heart of the winter season and heating systems are maxed out.
The odorless gas can be fatal if large amounts of it are inhaled over a long period of time and can also lead to brain damage, according to Emily Ciraolo, of National Fuel.
“We always see at least a few cases each year,” she said. “It’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector. It’s just as important as having a smoke detector.”
The Niagara County Health Department said it is running low on supplies for those seeking inoculations. However, the county’s nursing division will offer a flu vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Thursday at the Trott Access Center in Niagara Falls. The cost of the vaccine is $34. To schedule an appointment call 278-1903.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.