Relief from arctic air expected

A warm hat, gloves and a heavy coat were requirements Tuesday for people venturing out into the wind

A warm hat, gloves and a heavy coat were requirements Tuesday for people venturing out into the windy, bitter cold weather.

Temperatures in the single digits and some wind gusts nearing 50 miles per hour made Tuesday feel like one of the coldest days of the year.

At 10 a.m., for example, with the wind blowing and temperature about 10 degrees, the wind-chill factor made it feel like 15 below zero, according to George Maglaras, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

Tuesday’s high temperature of 29 occurred just after midnight, and the day’s low (as of 5 p.m.) hit 8 degrees at around 10:30 a.m. Normals for the day are 33 and 16, according to the Weather Service. The average wind speed throughout the day was 22 mph.

Homeless shelters in Schenectady and Saratoga Springs were full of people trying to stay out of the punishing elements.

“We are full just about all the time,” said John Manns, office supervisor at the City Mission of Schenectady shelter at 425 Hamilton St. “But we make extra room,” Manns said. “In this kind of weather we don’t want to turn anybody away.”

The Schenectady shelter has 70 permanent beds but can place mattresses on floors and in hallways to accommodate another 15 men. The shelter also provides homeless men with gloves, hats and warm socks if they need them.

“We have capacity of 19 and are at capacity,” said Tom Gillespie, a case worker at Shelters of Saratoga on Walworth Street in Saratoga Springs.

He said when homeless people come to the shelter and there is no more room, they are referred to the county Department of Social Services. The homeless are often placed in motel rooms until they can get back on their feet.

The cold and wind were a mixed blessing for ski areas. Only the most passionate skiers and snowboard riders braved Tuesday’s weather, according to Chic Wilson, owner of Willard Mountain Ski Center on Intervale Road in Easton.

But the cold was wonderful for snow making. Wilson said his snow makers were “just thumping” all day at the ski center.

“You have to be a pretty dedicated skier or snowboarder to come out in this weather,” Wilson said.

He said the dedicated skiers and snowboard riders have the proper equipment and clothing for such weather.

“Skiing is great when it’s cold and it’s not crowded,” Wilson said.

Fighting fires is another tough job in the cold, windy weather. Between 30 and 40 firefighters from five companies responded to a fast-moving mobile home fire in the Turf Mobile Home Park in Halfmoon shortly before noon on Tuesday.

Steffen Buck, assistant chief of the Clifton Park Fire Department, said the really cold weather is “tough on the body.”

Buck said firefighters can usually battle a fire between a half-hour and 45 minutes before taking a break. But when the wind chill factor dips below zero, this firefighting time drops to 15 to 20 minutes before the firefighter needs to get inside and warm up.

“Everything is total ice from the [freezing] water,” Buck said. If the hoses aren’t kept flowing, the water in them freezes and plugs the hose.

The Jonesville Fire Department brought its rehabilitation unit to the Turf Mobile Home Park fire. This RV is equipped so that firefighters can get out of the weather and warm up with a hot chocolate or hot coffee.

The winds finally died down overnight to under 10 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Today will be mostly sunny with lows in the low 20s and highs in the upper 20s.

On Thursday, New Year’s Eve, it will be even warmer with highs in the lower 30s but cloudy with a 40 percent chance of light snow.

On Thursday evening, light snow is likely with lows in the upper 20s.

On New Year’s Day, there is a chance of sleet and freezing rain in the morning with a 50 percent chance of light snow later in the day.

Maglaras said he is watching a coastal storm that will develop Friday night into Saturday off the New England coast. This storm is expected to bring light snow to the region from Friday through Sunday.

“A lot can change with a system like this,” Maglaras said. He said if the storm’s center moved farther west it could bring more snow to the Capital Region than is currently predicted.

The coastal storm may also bring some gusty winds to the Capital Region Saturday and Sunday.

Temperatures over the weekend won’t make it out of the 20s but, at this point, no significant snowfall is expected, just on-and-off snow showers both Saturday and Sunday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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