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Area withstands Mother Nature's 1-2 punch

Region’s respite from snow and cold to be brief

Friday, January 3, 2014
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City Mission of Schenectady shift supervisor George Kakule, takes information from a walk in to give him shelter Friday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
City Mission of Schenectady shift supervisor George Kakule, takes information from a walk in to give him shelter Friday.

— Thursday was the snow. Friday night was the deep freeze. Saturday, you will finally have a chance to enjoy a bit of relatively mild weather before the next winter inconvenience rears its head.

Temperatures should reach into the 20s, giving the Capital Region a moment to thaw out after Friday night’s sub-zero deep freeze. But the mild weather won’t last long. The next storm system is expected to arrive Sunday night and last through Monday, in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Quinlan.

“It’s looking like it will be a wintry mix,” he said Friday evening. “Unlike this past system, which was all snow, the next system will have sleet and freezing rain mixed in with some snow. It may change over to rain for a brief period of time. But there is a cold front expected to cross the region Monday, and cold air will funnel in behind that to change that mixed precipitation back to snow.”

For now, the worst is over. The recent storm dumped anywhere from 8 to nearly 18 inches on the Capital Region between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning.

The Schoharie County hamlet of Summit got the most snow, topping out at 17.5 inches by 9 a.m. The nearby towns of Fulton, Jefferson, Middleburgh, Richmondville, Seward and Howes Cave all got more than a foot of snow. In Schenectady County, the village of Delanson received the biggest haul, at 16 inches, followed by the surrounding town of Duanesburg at 14 inches.

In Saratoga County, Gansevoort got a foot of snow. And in Albany County, the villages of Ravena and Voorheesville, the town of Berne and the hamlet of Fort Hunter all topped a foot of snow as of Friday morning.

Between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday, state police responded to more than 430 calls for disabled vehicles and about 600 auto accidents. Troopers also fielded more than 100 calls to assist citizens, including checking on their welfare and assessing property damage.

As a deep chill set in across the region Friday, local municipalities had time to dust off and get moving again. New York lifted the state of emergency put in place the day before. The Thruway between Albany and New York City reopened. Snowplows cleared up the last of the snow. The Empire State Plaza ice rink reopened to skaters in the afternoon.

But then the wind chill dove, generated by very cold air and strong winds. The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill warning Friday that will remain in effect until 9 a.m. today in the Capital Region, Mohawk and Schoharie valleys, Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls and the southern Adirondacks.

Overnight, the region was expected to reach near-record temperatures of about minus-12 in Albany and minus-22 in Glens Falls. But because of wind, the temperature was to actually feel as though it was anywhere from minus-15 to minus-40 across the region, Quinlan said.

“We expect very cold wind chill conditions,” he said Friday. “It will get as low as 30- or 40-below across parts of the southern Adirondacks and about 15- to 25-below elsewhere in the Capital Region.”

Quinlan said the Jan. 4 record for low temperature in the region was set in 1904, when it reached minus-15 in Albany.

The Capital Region was expected to be just a few degrees shy of that record Friday night, prompting the National Weather Service to warn of frostbite and hypothermia and advise people to wear layers, hats and gloves if they must venture outdoors.

The City Mission of Schenectady was bracing for another night of winter weather Friday, preparing mats for any new men, women or children venturing in from the bitter cold. On Thursday night, the mission had 71 men, nine women and three children staying in its shelters.

“We don’t expect too many more tonight, even though it’s colder, because most of those who came in yesterday planned to stay until tonight, as well,” said Liz Chamberlain, director of development at the City Mission. “The one thing that affects our numbers is we have transitional housing apartments right here on the block, which frees up space here in the shelter.”

The cities of Albany and Saratoga Springs were both under active Code Blue status Friday, continuing into Saturday, urging the homeless to seek shelter in extreme weather. In Albany, anyone seeking reprieve from the cold can find it at the Capital City Rescue Mission at 259 S. Pearl St. In Saratoga Springs, a new shelter will be open in the St. Peter’s Parish Center at 64 Hamilton St.

 
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