Lake effect snow raises concerns about stranded cars

Posted at 7:18 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 19:32:18-05

As heavy lake effect snow moved into the Buffalo metro area, driving has become very difficult especially because some major traffic routes were closed.

Whenever there is a big snow storm during commute times it raises concerns about stranded drivers.

In 2014, the Snowvember Storm stranded hundreds on the NYS Thruway and required first responders to help.

Since then, Snowvember and other big storms have played a key role in how emergency coordinators plan for storms.

One of the important tools is the use of closing gates on the NYS Thruway and State Routes 5, 219, and 400.  Also newer for drivers are closing gates on Rt.5 and the I-290 in Williamsville.

A coordinated plan is in place that allows the gates to be closed by individual police and fire departments, as well as New York State Department of Transportation employees.

If a driver does have to be rescued from one of the area expressways, local first responders are now on standby just in case.

Charlie Morgante, regional operations director for the NYS Department of Transportation, said his department was moving additional resources to the metro area to help deal with the storm.

While rescuing a stranded driver is something the first responders are prepared to do, it does tie-up important resources for other calls such as medical conditions.

Dan Neaverth, Jr., Erie County Commissioner of Emergency Services, is urging drivers to be part of a team effort  during the storm.  "Don't leave your house with a half-a-tank or no tank of gas.  Make sure you have winter supplies that if you are in your car for an extended period of time that you can take care of yourself.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his reports from downtown Buffalo during the height of the storm.