Drivers faced whiteout conditions in south Niagara

Drivers faced whiteout conditions on area roads as lake-effect snow hammered south Niagara from Wainfleet to Fort Erie Tuesday.
Environment Canada had warned of squalls off of Lake Erie creating low to nil visibility in heavy snow bands, and of rapidly accumulating snow.
Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services firefighters faced those whiteout conditions when responding to a multi-vehicle crash on Hwy. 3 in Port Colborne near Lorraine Rd.
Fire Chief Tom Cartwright said conditions on the two-lane highway were very dangerous with zero visibility.
The crash, he said, involved 11 vehicles on a small S-curve on the highway west of Lorraine Rd.
“There were no serious injuries, if any injuries.”

Conditions on Hwy. 3 at Lorraine Rd. near the time of the multi-vehicle crash in Port Colborne.

Conditions on Hwy. 3 at Lorraine Rd. near the time of the multi-vehicle crash in Port Colborne.

Cartwright said while the conditions were bad for drivers, the whiteouts made it dangerous for firefighters trying to check each car and assess patients alongside Niagara EMS paramedics.
Though firefighters shut down the highway between Hwy. 140 and White Rd., a 4.5 kilometre stretch, there were vehicles already on the highway and coming in off of side roads. Many tried to make it through the crash scene as Niagara OPP also responded to the crash and also blocked off the highway.
“There was an OPP in front of me and I couldn’t see his car,” said Cartwright of the conditions on the road.
He said the high wind gusts — Environment Canada put gusts near 90 km/h in Port Colborne — were blowing firefighters across the road and the extreme cold was making it hard to work.
Environment Canada had warned of extreme wind chills throughout Monday (Jan. 6) night into Tuesday (Jan. 7) afternoon. It was -14C, and -29C with the wind chill factored in Tuesday.
“Extreme caution is advised for people heading outdoors. Exposed skin may freeze in less than five minutes. Moreover, it is also suggested to help prevent freezing of pipes in buildings, one could turn on the lowest tap in the house and let it run as a pencil-thin stream or fast drip while keeping indoor temperatures a little warmer at night. Wind chills will improve slowly on Wednesday as temperatures rise slowly and winds finally begin to ease,” Environment Canada said in one of its warnings.

Audio of the call for the crash in Port Colborne.

More photos of the conditions in parts of south Niagara can be found here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjQiBjxP