BATAVIA — Call it a sense of relief.
Travel bans ended Sunday morning in Genesee and Orleans counties after two days of intense winds and zero visibility — which meant people could finally begin digging out from the blizzard as the GLOW region began to inch toward normal. Even though it was Christmas morning, many area residents spent the first few hours of daylight shoveling and using snowblowers to clear driveways and sidewalks.
It had not been an easy process.
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday had mentioned hundreds of vehicles off the road in whiteouts and bitter chill. The City of Batavia followed with its own travel ban Saturday afternoon.
Road closures had also been part of the process since Friday, whether vehicles becoming stranded or disabled tractor-trailers blocking highways.
Saturday was similarly brutal, with continued high winds and a brutal cold that made the air seem devoid of oxygen and the even the clear sometimes seem like a moonscape.
“Stay off the road,” the state Thruway authority had advised.
As of Sunday afternoon, stores and restaurants were still closed, whether due to Christmas or the storm.
A few tractor-trailers sat parked near the Thruway entrance in Batavia, hoping the highway would reopen. Others were parked at area hotels or otherwise vacant parking lots such as Tops Friendly Markets, which was set to remain closed until Monday morning in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
Even though the highways were reopened, a “no unnecessary travel” advisory remained in effect in Genesee County. Travel remained challenging in many areas, with multiple vehicles stuck in ditches or abandoned where they had stopped in driving lanes.
“A travel advisory means that no unnecessary travel is advised,” county officials said in a news release. “A trip which could wait until the advisory is lifted should not be made.”
A winter storm warning was in effect throughout Sunday in Genesee and Wyoming counties. An estimate of stranded vehicle responses wasn’t immediately available Sunday evening.