Winter to rear its head again
Bitter cold to follow 6-12 inches of snow
CAPITAL REGION Snow will already have started accumulating by the time Capital Region residents wake up this morning, and they can look for a slow and steady piling up of the white stuff throughout the day as a major storm sweeps across the state.
The region can anticipate a 24- to 36-hour storm that started Wednesday night and will continue into early Friday, with snow falling lightly to moderately over most of that time, said Ian Lee, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany.
The storm has merited the attention of top state officials because of its length and timing, and municipal plowing crews can expect long hours to keep roads clear.
The weather service issued a winter storm warning Wednesday night that calls for 6 to 12 inches of snow to pile up by the time the storm moves out of the area after sunrise Friday, with heavier amounts possible in some higher elevations. The heaviest snow is expected to fall tonight, reaching a rate of as much as an inch an hour.
“It’s going to be a prolonged event,” Lee said. “It’s going to be sticking on contact, so even as we get 9 to 12 inches, it’s going to provide a travel hazard.”
Children and others looking for winter wonderland opportunities in the storm’s wake need to be aware that bitter cold will follow. The fresh snow cover combined with a high pressure system will push temperatures to zero or below tonight and perhaps minus-10 to minus-15 Friday night — and that’s before wind chill, which will make it feel much colder.
“It’s going to be very cold out,” Lee said.
As of Wednesday night, snow emergencies had already been declared in a handful of local municipalities, including Mechanicville.
In the city of Schenectady, Mayor Gary McCarthy put out a reminder Wednesday night that parking is prohibited on designated priority streets after 3 inches of snow. Priority streets are posted, and vehicles parked on them will be subject to towing.
Residents and emergency management officials in New England and parts of New York prepared Wednesday for the storm. As much as a foot of snow or more was forecast for some areas through the day today and into Friday, and temperatures were expected to plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero, the National Weather Service said.
“There will be travel problems,” said Hugh Johnson, another National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany. “It will be very cold. You don’t want to be out in the stuff long unless you have the proper clothing.”
Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York City, likely to see 3 to 7 inches, issued a snow alert. Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the city’s commuters to leave their cars at home in case major highways are closed for today’s evening rush hour.
“We are looking at a serious storm situation,” Cuomo said. “We are preparing accordingly.”
Near blizzard conditions were forecast for areas along the coast. The mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., declared a state of emergency for today, imposing special parking regulations so crews can plow.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office, the state police, the Department of Transportation and other state agencies held a conference call on New Year’s Eve to prepare for the storm. Officials said crews would be prepared to plow, sand and salt roads or respond to any problems that may arise.
While the bulk of the snow was expected to hit southern New England and southern sections of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the prospect of any additional snow was welcome news for many areas farther north. The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in northern New Hampshire said the number of skiers during the first five days of Christmas vacation week increased 26 percent compared to last year.
“We seem to be in a sweet spot of snow,” foundation Executive Director Thom Perkins said. “We’ve had a phenomenal season so far.”
In Maine, where some communities are still recovering from a recent ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seemed prepared for more winter weather. Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, went skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it’s been cold, but the skiing has been good.
“Hey, it’s winter in Maine,” she said. “We go with it.”