If there's one thing Fred Piasecki has learned in his 12 years overseeing Orchard Park's snowplows, it's that winter weather can change in an instant.
“Winter's here (but) to what extent,” Piasecki said Friday. “Prior to this storm, we were pretty fortunate, but mother nature can change it pretty quick.”
In Orchard Park Thursday night, that meant the snow piled up rapidly, stopping traffic in its tracks.
“It became a parking lot,” said Supervisor Patrick Keem. “All of Milestrip (Road), from Abbott all the way to Southwestern.”
So Orchard Park officials did something you might not expect. They actually took their plows off the road during the middle of the storm.
But they say they had good reason for doing so.
“When our plow trucks get tied up in that traffic, they're not doing what they need to do (which) is plow,” Piasecki said. “So we have to make decisions on how long we're going to keep them out and wait for traffic to clear up.”
Making matters worse was the fact that 140 cars were left abandoned on town roads.
“What happens is our plows, county plows, town plows, state plows can't get through to plow the roads because the cars that were abandoned are blocking them, and that's a real major problem,” Keem said.
So the highway superintendent ordered all plows off the roads around 7:30 p.m.
Then Erie County came through with front loaders to move the cars onto side streets.
By 2 a.m., the plows were back to work.
“That intense of a snow coming down for a short period of time...you're gonna have traffic problems and you just try to work with them the best you can,” Piasecki said.