Chautauqua County needs to be prepared for another burst of bone-chilling temperatures and record snowfall across the region, which started Monday morning and will continue on through tonight.
According to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, a lake effect band reached through the region Monday, causing up to 3 inches of snowfall per hour and temperatures dropping to zero by this morning.
Meteorologist Aaron Reynolds said, “We got a really strong cold front coming over the region which will cause lake effect snow through the next couple days.”
Reynolds said some areas will receive up to two feet of snow and in some areas even three feet of snow.
“The wind chill will get down to 25 to 30 degrees below and temperatures will continue to drop,” he said.
Reynolds said if anyone has to travel they should make sure their roads are open first and also that their car is prepared for heavy snow.
The Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services wants everyone to be prepared for the chilling weather.
Director of Emergency Services Julius Leone said Monday afternoon people should make arrangements to stay inside the next couple of days.
“If they don’t have to go out they should make arrangements to stay indoors and off the roads (till Wednesday),” he said.
Leone said frost bite can happen very fast so people should “dress in layers” and “limit the exposure of skin.”
“People need to be prepared for the possibility of frost bite the next few days,” he said. “They should also keep their pets inside or at least out of the elements since they can get frost bite too.”
Leone said wind-chill temperatures could drop to 40 below zero so people need to be safe.
“If people are living in apartments and know of anyone living alone, especially the elderly, make sure they have plenty of food and heat,” he said. “Be a good neighbor.”
Leone said if you have a heater that uses supplemental heat, like fire-places or wood stoves you need to keep the chimneys clean in order to protect from fire.
“Make sure to keep safe,” he said. “If we lose power and you need to use a generator make sure it is outside, to minimize exposure to carbon monoxide.”
Leone said the same rule applies for if you get stranded in your vehicle.
“You should turn your car on and off periodically, and keep the window open a little so the exhaust doesn’t get trapped inside the car,” he said.
In extreme frigid weather like that arriving Monday courtesy of a ‘Polar Vortex’, residents may seek alternative methods to keep their homes warm and their houses supplied with power during outages caused by the storm.
“Everyone needs to be mindful of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (“CO”) poisoning” states Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein. “Improper use of generators or portable space heaters can silently poison you and your family without your knowledge. Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas that can literally kill you in minutes. It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating which is why taking proper precautions is vital and having sufficient working CO detectors in your home is critical.”
Burstein continues: “Every year, 500 people in the U.S. die from accidental CO poisoning. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help. Leave your home immediately if your CO detector sounds and call 911.”
A weather related accident caused a vehicle to hit a utility pole at 192 Liberty Street, Fredonia. There were no injuries but the pole completely snapped, and wires were hanging. On the scene were Fredonia Fire Police and National Grid.
City of Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce has issued a travel advisory for the city, according to Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino.
“We issued a travel advisory for the city of Dunkirk throughout the whole night. No unnecessary travel,” Gugino explained. “We are strongly admonishing people not to drive or travel tonight, other than emergencies.
“Right now it’s an advisory. The mayor and I will be watching it. If it gets extremely bad we may up it to a ban, but at this point it’s an advisory.”
Gugino had another request of residents.
“We will also request that people not put their garbage out for District B for the normal Tuesday pickup tonight,” he stated. “At this point we’re still planning on the garbage pickup. What we’re saying is don’t put your garbage out due to the high winds until first thing in the morning, from 6:30 to 7 a.m.”
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OBSERVER City Editor Gib Snyder Jr. contributed to this article.