Numerous emergency declarations as Capital Region digs out

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERResidents on Wendell Avenue in Schenectady dig out on Thursday after at least two feet of snow fell.


Residents on Wendell Avenue in Schenectady dig out on Thursday after at least two feet of snow fell.

CAPITAL REGION — If you’re reading this, congratulations on surviving one of the top 10 snowstorms to hit the Capital Region in December in the last 135 years. We hope you’ve dug out, but for many the digging will continue on Friday.

The massive snowstorm that swept into the region from the southwest overnight Wednesday dropped between two and three feet of snow across the entire region, prompting difficult travel conditions and states of emergency to be declared in communities across the region.

The Niskayuna School District announced late Thursday that it would remain closed on Friday, the Saratoga Springs City School District announced a traditional snow day for Friday, and in Albany, the city school district will conduct distance learning on Friday.

The National Weather Service said the total snow measured at its Albany office was 25.2 inches, after the snow had stopped about 1 p.m. The official storm total measured at Albany International Airport was 22.9 inches, making this the eighth biggest snowstorm on record for Albany, and the fourth biggest in December. It beat out last year’s Dec. 1-3 storm by 0.3 inches for fourth place on the December list. Official weather service records go back to 1884.

In southern Schoharie County, Summit reported a 37-inch total to grab this storm’s record, but readings of 30 inches or more were common across the region. The Capital Region, which in initial forecasts was going to be on the northern fringe of the storm, instead took a direct hit, with lesser amounts falling to the north and south.

Every local county except for Fulton was included in a mid-day emergency declaration by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“With a large portion of the state continuing to deal with heavy snowfall and extremely dangerous driving conditions, I am declaring a state of emergency in eighteen counties across the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, Capital and Mid-Hudson Regions,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers are no strangers to extreme winter weather and we will get through this as we always do. We have thousands of personnel and pieces of equipment engaged in operations throughout the state and will continue to do everything we can to help communities until the job is done.”

The speed limit on interstate highways including those in the Capital Region was reduced to 45 mph, Cuomo said.

For many people, it was a day of digging out driveways and cars, snowblowing — and, if children could get out of the house — playing in the snow.

In Albany overnight, someone who took a snowmobile out on Interstate-787 was killed in an accident investigated by state police.

State Police said the accident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. near Exit 4B, in the southbound lanes.  One person, operating a snowmobile, died after colliding with a tractor trailer.  No one else was injured in the accident, police said. Other details weren’t available by late Thursday.

It was one of two fatal accidents in the state tied to the storm, and one of 600 accidents state police responded to statewide.

With the snow having been light and fluffy, National Grid reported only scattered power outages. One of the largest, effecting nearly 1,300 customers, was in the Middle Grove area, and power was restored by late afternoon.

In Schenectady County, the county and city of Schenectady both declared weather related emergencies, citing heavy snow, icy conditions and drifting snow. Travel was restricted to only essential personnel through Thursday morning. County officials saw Wednesday morning that road-clearing efforts were proceeding slowly, due to the volume of snow.

All county offices were closed except for the COVID-19 call center, which continued to operate, and all classes at SUNY-Schenectady were cancelled.

Meanwhile, in the city, Mayor Gary McCarthy declared a state of emergency in the city effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday and continuing for 24 hours. Motorists were urged to stay off the road, and there was no garbage pickup.

In addition to its announced “priority streets,” the city released a list of streets, many of them in the Stockade, where parking will be prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday so streets can be cleared.

The towns of Glenville, Rotterdam and Niskayuna and village of Scotia have also declared emergencies due to the amount of snow that has fallen, and people parked on streets could be ticketed and towed.

In Saratoga County, meanwhile, emergencies were declared both in Saratoga Springs for snow removal and across the entire county due to poor travel conditions.

In the city, Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco declared a snow emergency starting at 9 a.m. and remaining in effect through 9 a.m. Sunday. Under the city snow removal program, all vehicles must be moved every 12 hours.

“Snow accumulation is significant and creating difficult travel conditions. Removal will be a multi-day effort. Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary travel, and be considerate of the DPW workforce that will be working around the clock to clear our city streets and infrastructure,” Scirocco said.

Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Preston Allen declared a countywide state of emergency due to the snowstorm and closed all county offices. All Saratoga County DMV locations are closed as part of the countywide closure. DMV customers who had an appointment scheduled in Ballston Spa, Clifton Park or Wilton should reschedule their appointment online at

Sun peaked out through the remaining storm clouds Thursday afternoon, and the National Weather Service is predicting the next couple of days will be sunny — but that doesn’t mean warm. The forecast is for daytime highs to remain below freezing.

The majority of flights at Albany International Airport were cancelled or delayed, and the intensity of the storm required the airport to close its main runway for short periods, to allow booms and snowblowers to make repeated passes on the 8,500-foot runway, airport officials said.


Summit, 37.0

East Glenville, 29.0

Guilderland, 24.0

Perth, 29.0

Clifton Park, 29.0

Rotterdam, 30.6

Amsterdam, 31.0

Fonda, 22.0

Saratoga Springs, 35.0

Burnt Hills, 31.5

Source: National Weather Service

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One Comment

Margaret McHale

I am located in town of Milton, Ballston Spa and we recorded 32 inches of snow and that was approximately 2 hours before it stopped snowing..

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