By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
As the first significant snowfall of the winter season touched down on Western New York overnight, by Thursday morning residents began digging out.
In the Tonawandas, nearly a foot of snow fell beginning Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday morning. Sustained winds topping off at 28 mph just after midnight and occasional gusts nearing 40 mph made navigation and clean-up efforts difficult, as the drifting snow blanketed roadways.
Jack Kanack, who runs weathermedic.com out of his North Tonawanda home and operates a weather station there that gives hyper-local statistics, said that accumulation during the storm was capped at 10.2 inches, the heaviest one-time snowfall since 2010.
“We had more than 10.2 inches on Jan. 3, 2010, which equaled what we got here,” he said. “So we’re talking three years. Anything over 13 mph will blow snow.”
And as a steady snow began to build at approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Brad Rowles, superintendent of the North Tonawanda Department of Public Works, said crews began salting roads to ease the pending effects of the storm, which gained traction as the evening wore on.
Nine trucks spent most of the night clearing roadways, while the department will conduct a final sweep of side streets into the early hours of Friday as the snow tapered off.
“Right now the main streets look great and we’re going to make the secondaries look like that tonight,” Rowles said. “By the time everybody goes to work on Friday morning it’s going to look like summer.”
No major accidents were reported by police, with little traffic over the holiday week and school already out of session residents huddled inside their homes.
Tom Paone, of National Weather Service, said that the most snow the area saw at once last winter was 6 inches, following a trend in recent years.
“We don’t get this type of thing very often anymore, it’s been a while since we’ve seen something like this,” he said. “It was just a good old-fashioned snowstorm. It was a large scale (event), not lake effect. It affected the whole state.”
On Thursday, families flocked to the outdoors to take advantage of sledding and other outdoor activities. Niawanda Park was packed with children sledding, while several others meticulously constructed an igloo along Klinger Avenue.
Fadel Kobti, owner of Granny’s Family Restaurant on Oliver Street, was shoveling the last of the white stuff Thursday afternoon. He said business was slow because of the weather, though the help of a friendly neighbor who used a snow blower to clear much of his property made life easier.
“I only had to shovel a little bit and that’s a good thing,” he said.
Paone added that forecasters continue to track an approaching weather system that is expected to bring only light snow showers today.