Icy storm forces some cars off roads

Dozens of cars skidded off ice-slicked roads Wednesday night as a nasty storm with ice and sleet

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Dozens of cars skidded off ice-slicked roads Wednesday night as a nasty storm with ice and sleet descended on the Capital Region.

“We couldn’t keep up,” said Trooper Justin Olsen at the Wilton state police station. “The tow companies couldn’t keep up.”

Olsen said the worst time was between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. After that, fewer cars were on the Northway and other roads, he said.

State, county and town road crews were out in full force Wednesday night salting and sanding the main roads and highways, police said.

The National Weather Service in Albany said colder air — dropping from the mid-30s in the afternoon down into the mid-20s — was coming into the region Wednesday night, causing the rain to freeze on contact with surfaces.

“It will change over to snow late [Wednesday night],” said John Quinlan, a weather service meteorologist. He said there may be some “pockets of sleet” before the all-snow precipitation.

Two to 4 inches of snow is expected in the Schenectady-Albany area today, 5 to 8 inches in northern Saratoga and Warren counties, and 6 to 12 inches of snow is expected in the Adirondacks.

Travel problems occur with a half an inch of ice on the roads, but when the ice buildup exceeds a half-inch then power outages become a problem, Quinlan said.

No major power outages had been reported as of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. National Grid reported just 63 outages in the elevated, northwestern Saratoga County towns of Greenfield and Hadley.

Ice was a problem throughout the Capital Region on Wednesday night, but in Saratoga County and southern Vermont the ice buildup was expected to continue into late Wednesday night or early today, Quinlan said.

Police agencies were reporting numerous cars off roadways but no serious personal injury accidents.

The National Weather Service had issued a flood warning earlier Wednesday, but as the cold air came into the region the threat of flooding diminished.

Quinlan said the Mohawk reached flood stage Wednesday afternoon in the Utica area but then went down again. He said there were no flooding problems in the Capital Region.

“When the precipitation falls and freezes, it stops much of the runoff,” Quinlan said.

However, Schoharie County was under a flood watch through Wednesday night.

Streams were high, but no flooding problems were reported by county officials as of late Wednesday afternoon.

The Schoharie Creek was brushing the top of its banks at Schoharie.

The Schoharie Reservoir at the Gilboa Dam was about 5 feet below flood stage Wednesday afternoon. The reservoir was expected to crest about 3 feet below flood stage at mid-day today, according to U.S. Geological Survey monitoring data.

The wintery mix is the result of a strengthening low pressure system over the midwest that came east/northeast along a stationary front in central Pennsylvania and Long Island, according to the National Weather Service.

Quinlan said the snow will start tapering off late this morning or early this afternoon.

Categories: Schenectady County

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