Saratoga County

Messy, icy storm likely to last through today, forecasters say

Just at the time many of us have had more than enough winter, another mix of snow, sleet and free

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Just at the time many of us have had more than enough winter, another mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain was headed our way.

The National Weather Service in Albany predicted that snow, which started falling at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, would continue through midnight, to be replaced by a mixture of sleet, freezing rain and rain through today.

“It’s been a costly winter, an old-fashioned winter,” said Walter Barss, Greenfield highway superintendent.

The Greenfield Highway Department in Saratoga County has 98 miles of hilly roads to plow and salt.

“We’ve gone through 1,900 tons of salt since January,” Barss said.

Barss said salt stockpiles throughout the region are low, with the Port of Albany sometimes running low or out of salt.

“Our crews started at 5 p.m. and will work 12-hour shifts through the completion of the storm,” said Doug Myers, a spokesman for Albany International Airport.

The airport was open, but eight flights scheduled to arrive Tuesday evening had been canceled because of the storm.

Myers said that as of Tuesday night, three flights scheduled to leave early this morning also had been canceled: the 5:30 a.m. US Airways Flight 3608 to Philadelphia, 6:10 a.m. Continental Flight 2197 to Cleveland and 6:20 a.m. Delta Flight 4732 to Atlanta.

John Quinlan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said the snow would continue past midnight and change to sleet and freezing rain early this morning.

For the immediate Capital Region, the freezing rain will turn to all rain by mid-morning today, Quinlan said.

In areas farther north, like Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls, the sleet and ice mix were likely to continue through much of the day.

The weather service winter storm warning doesn’t end until 5 p.m. today.

There are chances of freezing rain building up on trees and power lines, especially in areas to the north. In the Saratoga-Glens Falls region, as much as half an inch of ice could build up on trees and power lines today.

More than half an inch of ice on power lines can mean power outages. Quinlan said a saving grace is that the wind is not expected to be a factor, staying between 5 and 15 miles per hour.

Snow accumulations are expected to be between 3 and 8 inches in the Capital Region, with 5 to 10 inches farther north, such as in Lake George and the Adirondacks.

Quinlan said two storms were to blame for bringing the wintry mix to the region. The first came west out of central New York with cooler air and snow, while the second storm was creeping up the coast from the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia region.

The warmer air from the second storm was expected to turn the snow to sleet, rain or freezing rain. Areas south and east of the Capital Region may experience some flooding problems because of heavy rain, Quinlan said.

“It seems like every storm is a mixed-precipitation event,” Quinlan said of recent storms to pass through the region.

On average, freezing rain or freezing drizzle falls for about 30 hours per year, he said. “We are well above that this year.”

Police agencies were reporting cars off the Northway and other highways Tuesday night because of the snow-slicked road surfaces. No serious accidents had been reported.

Joel Goodman, founder and director of the Saratoga Springs-based Humor Project, said Tuesday that having a well-developed sense of humor can help people deal with the weather and “lift the clouds.”

He cites a favorite quote by humorist Patrick Young: “The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”

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