BUFFALO – The National Weather Service on Wednesday Afternoon upgraded its Lake Effect Snow Warning for the region to a Blizzard Warning. The warning runs from early Thursday morning until 4 p.m. on Friday and includes all of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties.
For Chautauqua County, total snow accumulations of 1 to 2 feet are expected, with some winds gusting as high as 55 mph. The conditions will result in extensive blowing and drifting snow. Specifically for Jamestown, the area will likely see periods of blowing snow throughout the day on Thursday with total snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Due to the blizzard warning, all school districts in the area are closed were closed for Thursday, along with some government offices and services.
School Closings included Jamestown, Falconer, Frewsburg, Southwestern, Bethel Baptist, Bemus Point, Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, and Panama – among others. Also the Jamestown Boys and Girls Club and Infinity Visual and Performing Arts were closed for Thursday and the Soup and a Song Fundraiser scheduled for Thursday night at the St. Susan Center was also postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date.
For local government, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist announced that City Hall was open on Thursday but that city court had been cancelled. Also the County Clerk’s Office in Mayville along with the County Legislature Office and the County DMV Office were closed for the day. some CARTS Routes were also cancelled.
On Wednesday Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel put out a reminder about driving safely during the blizzard warning.
“We have been fortunate to have some warmer weather this past week but with significant snowfall expected to return tonight, I ask that county residents please use caution and remember to slow down if road conditions and visibility are poor,” said Wendel. “Our Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Division of Transportation are prepared for this storm and I remind residents that if they must travel to please be careful.”
Also on Wednesday night, Chautauqua County Department of Public facilities Director Brad Bentley echoed Wendel’s reminder during the monthly Chautauqua County Legislature meeting.
“We’ve had some really good weather recently and when that happens there’s a tendency by the public to forget how to drive in winter weather. The next few days are probably going to be difficult and we’re hearing about blizzard-like conditions so we’re taking this very seriously,” Bentley said. “The DPF is ready, as we always are, to take care of the roads, but I want the public to drive safely and slowly. If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out. If you do, leave some room behind our plows. They have a difficult job seeing in this weather and they’re the ones out there trying to clear the roads. If you’re behind them, stay back from them.”
During the blizzard warning and anytime there is winter weather in the area, motorists 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;
- Update the emergency kit in their vehicles so it includes a shovel, snowbrush, windshield scraper, reflective vest, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, cell phone charger or battery pack, water, snack food, matches, first aid kit with a pocket knife, necessary medications, blankets, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares, florescent distress flag, and extra hats, socks and mittens;
- 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; and
- Keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.