Medina Journal-Register — The so-called “Polar Vortex” blew its way into Western New York late Monday night, pounding municipalities with snow, frigid temperatures and brutal wind gusts.
By early morning Tuesday, every school district in the county joined the hundreds across the region that chose to cancel school because of the deep freeze.
And while the cold arrived, accompanied by high winds, Orleans County, believe it or not, was among those places where the inclement weather was not as severe.
As of mid-day Tuesday, Paul Wagner, Orleans County Emergency Management Director, said the workload for his department had remained quite light.
“Thankfully there have been no accidents that I’m aware of and no fires since Friday,” he said. “It’s been relatively quiet here.”
Wagner also noted that one of the biggest concerns in severe weather — power outages — had largely been avoided.
“There have only been a handful of reported outages right along the Monroe County line,” he said.
The road conditions in Orleans County, which Wagner said he observed earlier in the day, were quite passable. He commended the local road crews for doing what they could to make travel safe for those who braved the cold. However, Wager also noted that with most folks tuned into 24-hour news and weather stations, a great majority of likely travelers made the choice to stay inside.
The temperatures were unkind to those who ventured outdoors Tuesday, as highs in the county barely climbed above the low single digits. While the forecast calls for those numbers to rise later in the week, Wagner said such cold temperatures serve as a reminder for proper winter preparedness.
“If you need to go outside, make sure you dress in layers,” he stated. “You need to insulate your body.”
As for houses, Wagner said homeowners need to be sure they have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. With furnaces running, there are exhaust gases. If a furnace is not running properly, or if some other form of gas use in the home is causing a problem, a CO detector could potentially be life-saving.
“CO is the silent killer,” Wagner said. “It’s odorless…and it’s dangerous to have prolonged exposure to it at high levels.”
Wagner noted the biggest concern and problem in inclement weather, particularly in the winter, is the loss of power because it leads to people losing the ability to heat their homes. In the event of widespread outages, he said heating centers would be set up for those in need.
“We’d likely work with the schools and in conjunction with the Red Cross if that were to happen,” he said.
However, on Tuesday, Wagner must have been rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot or doing some other superstitious ritual as Orleans County managed to escape the cold snap with just that: cold.
“Genesee County got a lot of snow,” he pointed out. He agreed Orleans County was pretty fortunate.
“The sun is shining and the wind is blowing up here, but we’re very fortunate that we’re not 20 miles south.”