Rochesterians are never surprised when the snow begins to fall, but Tuesday’s record-setting snowstorm was so bad that many motorists were stuck on the expressway for hours on end.
According to Syracuse.com, a massive storm dumped over two feet of snow on Rochester during the early morning hours of Tues., Feb. 16. The snowfall became so severe that Interstate 490 was shut down in both directions to allow plows to catch up.
While many people opted to stay home from work upon seeing the snowfall, others did not have this luxury. Therefore, hundreds of motorists were stuck in their vehicles for an obscene amount of time while they waited for the roads to clear.
At one point, conditions became so dangerous that city officials feared for the lives of stranded drivers. The Democrat and Chronicle reported that Monroe County sheriff’s deputies were actually patrolling the traffic standstill on I-490 to assist people who were running short of gas.
In addition to the heavy snowfall, temperatures were also quite low while motorists waited for traffic to resume. Drivers who did run out of gas were forced to sit in their freezing cold vehicle until help arrived.
Linen is an ideal warmth-keeper in cold weather, but even the warmest of sweaters couldn’t have helped stranded motorists in yesterday’s conditions. At one point, tractor-trailers blocked all three eastbound lanes of traffic on I-490, leaving some drivers at a standstill for over three hours.
In the aftermath of the storm, some Rochesterians are questioning the tactics of Monroe County officials. Many believe that those in power waited too long to close expressways, and that the I-490 traffic debacle on Tuesday could have been avoided.
“No one predicted the intensity of the snow that hit exactly at the morning commute. Once that weather did hit, the action was quite appropriate,” said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “I’m comfortable with the time we issued the no-unnecessary-travel advisory.”
Despite Dinolfo’s confident words, some residents are strongly condemning the perceived failures of county officials.
“They should have issued that sucker at about 4:00 in the morning. I’m not sure why it was so late, especially with all the advance notifications we got,” said Ronnie Williams, a public works director in Penfield.
There will likely be some changes made to the county’s weather warning system as a result of this storm, but thankfully, it seems as if Rochester has survived yet another epic blizzard.