CAPITAL REGION — Big snow is finally coming to the Capital Region, forecasters say.
A major winter storm is expected to hit the area Saturday night, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Albany.
The payoff: At least 7 inches of snow.
“It’s going to impact us starting late in the day on Saturday, continue through Saturday night and into the day on Sunday,” said meteorologist Brian Frugis.
“It’s probably going to snow pretty heavy for a while between Saturday night and Sunday morning,” Frugis added. “We definitely think some significant accumulations are going to occur.”
A preview will come Thursday night into Friday morning, with up to two inches of snow forecast for the region.
People have not seen substantial snow cover since November. That month’s snowfall total was formidable for autumn — 10.4 inches — with 5 inches of precipitation falling during a late autumn storm that hit the area Nov. 15-16.
“We started out really quick with the snow and people were wondering if it was going to be a real bad winter,” Frugis said. “December was pretty quiet and the first half of January has been quiet, sometimes it works out that way.”
Meteorologists say during a normal winter season the Capital Region should see 25 inches of snow by mid-January.
“We’ve seen about 14, so we’re about a foot below normal,” Frugis said.
Frugis said meteorologists expect snow from a Pacific-born system that will move into the Gulf states and then travel northeast toward the Ohio Valley. Snow is expected to fall after 8 p.m. Saturday and intensify after midnight. Snow will continue into Sunday afternoon.
Frugis said the forecast for the storm — more than three days away — could change before Saturday.
The storm will also bring cooler temperatures, with highs in the teens and low 20s Sunday and in the single digits on Monday. The frigid temperatures mean chances for a frozen Mohawk River.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) usually monitors the Mohawk for ice jams, but this winter’s shutdown of the federal government has curtailed river checks.
“Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions,” reads a line on the survey website. “Websites displaying real-time data, such as earthquake and water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.”
A camera trained on Mohawk River locations was in operation Wednesday night.
Schenectady firefighters will be checking the river.
“Right now, we’re monitoring the river,” said Assistant Fire Chief Michael Gillespie. “We don’t anticipate anything unusual. There is a calculation there might be a higher volume of snow, but we’re in the river-monitoring season now and right now we have no expectations of any issues. We’re looking at it if not on a daily basis, at least every few days, both on the computer and putting eyes on it.”
With the new year’s first storm on the move toward the region, some businesses say shoppers will be on the move for groceries and hardware.
Price Chopper Supermarkets/Market 32 on Wednesday night emailed customers with product sales and the advice, “Be ready for the snow!”
Megan Cruz, general manager of the Gabriel’s supermarkets in Scotia and Rotterdam, expects a weekend rush before snow begins Saturday night.
“We’re usually pretty busy busy on Saturday, but we’re expecting to be much busier this Saturday due to the weather,” Cruz said, adding people usually stock up on essentials such as milk, bread and butter.
But winter storms generally do not mean a financial bonanza for markets.
“It doesn’t necessarily do any better for us,” Cruz said. “We’ll just be slow on the days it storms or the days after because they have already come out and bought everything they need.”
Louise Eddy, who owns the Saratoga Quality Hardware stores in Saratoga Springs and Hudson Falls, believes customers will visit for ice-melting salts and chemicals, snow shovels and, if snow is heavy, snow rakes.
“We expect to see a rush for products and we’re preparing for that to make sure we are well stocked in those products,” she said.
Joe Aragosa, president of Marty’s True Value Hardware in Schenectady, said his Van Vranken Avenue store is stocked with winter fighters such as rock salt, windshield washer fluid and snow blowers.
The mid-November storm, Aragosa said, was good for business.
“We sold out most of everything, and we restocked,” he said.
Aragosa also said hardware stores need the seasons to show up to help sustain the business.
“Winter’s got to be cold and snowy, fall has to have leaves to pick up, spring has to be wet and summer has to be hot for us,” he said. “If they’re not, we just don’t sell the products.”
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]