30TH-31ST…Great blizzard of ’66 temporarily isolated Buffalo and paralyzed the region. Train service was disrupted. Numerous highways, the New York State Thruway from Albany to the Pennsylvania state line, and the Buffalo Airport as well as other airports throughout western and central New York were closed. Hardest hit was the Syracuse-Oswego area. 100 inches of snow was reported from Oswego. Some schools in Orleans county were closed for the entire week following the blizzard. Economic loss from the weekend storm is estimated at $35 million. Gale winds gusting to 60 mph and temperatures in the teens along with heavy and blowing snow created truly severe blizzard conditions.
January 30th-31st...coatings of ice up to three inches thick snapped power lines and toppled utility poles throughout the snow belt region. An estimated 5000 homes and businesses were without power in Chautauqua and Erie counties. Hardest hit were the communities of Franklinville, Ellicottville, Otto, East Otto, Collins, North Collins, Eden, Concord, Boston, Perrysburg, New Albion, Fredonia, and Forestville. A State of Emergency was declared in Chautauqua county to help in the recovery.
The protracted thawing caused Niagara Frontier streams to rise and in combination with ice jams produced flooding in scattered areas. Most flooding was minor. Fifty families were evacuated from the sunset bay area at the mouth of Cattaraugus creek.
An east-west cold front remained nearly stationary across the Niagara Peninsula for most of the day. A southwest flow across Lake Erie to the south of the front concentrated heavy snowfalls across the Central Western Counties and portions of the Western Southern Tier. Snowfall amounts ranged from four inches at the Buffalo Airport to seventeen inches in East Otto. Snowfalls of nine inches in Portageville and Warsaw and ten inches in Colden and Orchard Park were reported.
30TH-31ST… A brisk northwest flow of cold air across Lake Ontario produced a lake effect squall. Fourteen inches fell at Redfield, seven inches at Montague and six to eight inches across southern Jefferson county.
Strong winds following the passage of a cold front caused the Lake Erie water level to substantially rise from Ripley to Buffalo. The high water levels and waves to twelve to sixteen feet resulted in erosion of the lake shore and significant flooding at the extreme eastern end of the lake. Roads along the lake shore were water covered or closed because of spray. Flood waters inundated the First Ward (West Side) of the city of Buffalo with entire neighborhoods under water. The Lake Erie water level rose eleven feet, was above its 8 foot flood stage for over three hours, and peaked at 11.06 feet above low water datum at 6:48 a.m. This was the second highest lake level on record.
A powerful cold front crosses western New York and was followed by very strong west to southwest winds. Sustained winds increased to 30 to 45 mph with gusts measured to 80 mph at the peak of the storm. Trees and power lines were downed by the strong winds. Utility companies reported close to 100,000 customers without power in locations scattered throughout region. Several homes and automobiles were damaged by falling trees and limbs. On Grand Island, the roof a manufacturing company sustained significant damage. The Buffalo Airport was closed between 8:30 a.m. and noon with over half of its scheduled flights canceled for the day. In downtown Buffalo, a building from the 1850s that had been damaged in an earlier January windstorm, sustained further damage and was deemed unsafe and to be demolished. The New York State Thruway was closed from Henrietta to Depew because of blowing snow and whiteout conditions. Two tractor trailers were blown over on the Thruway. In Irondequoit, the steeple of a church was blown down.
There is a detailed version of local daily weather events on the National Weather Service website.
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