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From flakes to frostbite

Snowstorm ushers in period of bitter cold

January 2, 2014
Updated 12:56 p.m.
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A city of Schenectady front-end loader clears snow from Central Parkway on Thursday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
A city of Schenectady front-end loader clears snow from Central Parkway on Thursday.

— Capital Region residents this morning will see the end of one threat and the continuation of another.

The snowstorm that began Thursday is expected to finally end this morning, dumping nearly a foot of snow in parts of the region.

Once that’s out of the way, the deep freeze is to set in, with low temperatures tonight possibly dipping to minus 14.

“It’s going to be really intense,” said Mike Saccocio, executive director of the City Mission in Schenectady, as the mission prepared for an influx of those seeking warm shelter. “It’s not often we get the two at once, a snowstorm and bitter cold.”

Those at the mission were busy making sure they had enough spots for everyone Thursday night and those expected to be seeking shelter from the bitter cold tonight.

The facility’s regular capacity is 76 beds for men and 25 beds for women and children. For nights like these, though, Saccocio said they work to make room for everyone.

“We just have to make it work,” he said.

Residents around the region and beyond Thursday had to deal with the snow and the temperatures as municipalities worked to keep the roads clear.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency, making various resources available to local governments to aid in response efforts.

Cuomo also urged New Yorkers to avoid traveling until the worst of the storm had passed.

The worst was expected to be over in the region by mid-morning today, with snow tapering off between 7 and 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in Albany.

The anticipated 10 to 12 inches of snow came over a long period of time, allowing plows to keep up with storm.

Some flights out of Albany International Airport were expected to be canceled this morning. On Thursday, 25 flights that were scheduled to arrive in Albany were canceled by early evening, airport officials said.

The airport was advising travelers to check with their airline directly to determine the status of their flights.

In Schenectady on Thursday, parking on priority streets was banned until the end of the storm. Once the streets are clear, parking on those streets can resume.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the ban, which kicks in when three inches of snow falls, resulted in some cars being towed Thursday. The aim, he said, is to get those priority streets plowed curb to curb.

Overall, McCarthy said the response to the storm was going well.

“At this point, the city is in pretty good shape,” McCarthy said Thursday evening.

On the other side of the Mohawk River, Scotia declared a snow emergency until 4 p.m. today, with no parking permitted on village streets. Glenville has a snow emergency until 5 p.m. today.

Once the storm ends this morning, next comes the cold — bitter cold.

“The big story [Friday] after this goes through will be the temperatures,” National Weather Service meteorologist Vasil Koleci said.

The high today is expected to be around 5 degrees. The low tonight will be around minus 14.

With winds during the day expected to be between 5 and 10 miles per hour, gusting up to 20 mph, those numbers will feel even colder. Wind chills could dip into the minus 20s, Koleci said.

“The wind is what will make it feel really bad during the day [Friday],” Koleci said. “It will feel downright cold.”

The winds are expected to calm down overnight, but with a low of minus 14, that will be of little consolation.

With low temperatures that haven’t been seen in this area in a few years, the National Weather Service put out advice on dealing with the cold and staying safe.

It also advised residents to check on elderly neighbors to make sure they’re warm and comfortable.

The weather service advised that exposed skin can freeze, with the first signs of frostbite being pain or redness. Frostbite requires immediate medical attention.

Homeowners should watch for freezing pipes. Those worried about freezing pipes should leave inside faucets to drip to keep the water moving. If pipes do freeze, warm them slowly by directing heat from an electric hair dryer onto the pipes.

Fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters should only be used if properly vented to the outside.

Pets generally should be kept indoors. Time outside for pets should be brief.

McCarthy made similar recommendations, especially the one about checking on neighbors.

“It’s extreme cold we haven’t had in a while, so people have to be a little more cautious,” McCarthy said.

The weekend is expected to warm up, relatively, with temperatures getting into the 20s Saturday and 30s Sunday before plunging into the single digits again Monday, Koleci said.

 
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