After relatively mild conditions for the first part of winter, more typical weather settled across upstate New York on Tuesday, prompting wind chill advisories and causing travel troubles in places where up to two feet of lake-effect snow was expected.
In the Caoital Region, there is a slight chance of snow showers tonight before 2 a.m. with a low around 1, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chill values could get as low as -14.
On Wednesday, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 14. Wind chill values could get as low as -15. On Wednesday night, it will be partly cloudy with a low around -1 and wind chill values as low as -13.
The bitterly cold continues on Thursday, when it will be mostly sunny with a high near 16. On Thursday night, look for a low around 0.
On Friday, snow is likely after 1 p.m. with a high near 18. Friday night, temperatures will drop to around 10.
On Saturday it will be partly sunny with a high near 20 and a low at night around 5.
On Sunday, a high near 23 is forecast with a low near 13.
Conditions were treacherous on Interstate 81 north of Syracuse on Tuesday morning, where a state plow went off the highway and got stuck at 6 a.m. Snow was cited as the cause of a fatal crash Monday afternoon in the Cortland County town of Lapeer, where a woman died after her car slid into the path of a truck.
The National Weather Service posted lake-effect snow warnings through late Wednesday morning in counties east of lakes Erie and Ontario. Frigid temperatures are also forecast, with wind chill warnings posted from midnight to 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Up to two feet of snow had fallen in some spots since the lake-effect snow began Sunday, weather service meteorologist Jim Mitchell in Buffalo said Tuesday. The southern shore of Lake Ontario is expected to get 10 to 18 inches by Wednesday, he said.
Temperatures overnight were expected to drop into the single digits across the state with wind chill readings of 15 below. In northern New York and the Adirondacks, the temperature was expected to plunge below zero, with wind chill readings of 20 to 30 below on Wednesday.
In the Albany area, homeless shelters were in emergency mode with the temperature expected to be around zero Wednesday morning. Under their winter protocol, shelters relax some rules, such as taking in intoxicated people, in hopes of preventing freezing deaths.
Arthur Snyder, director of emergency management for Ulster County, said emergency management officials and the National Weather Service have an advisory protocol for unusually cold temperatures, but the current cold spell doesn’t meet the criteria of three consecutive days of average temperatures of 10 degrees or less.
With wind chills expected to drop as low as 25 below zero Tuesday night in the Hudson Valley, Snyder said his agency was advising people to dress warmly, take measures to keep pipes from freezing, and use caution with space heaters to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.
Art DeGaetano of the Northeast Climate Center at Cornell University said the cold snap this week is typical for upstate New York winters.
“It just seems cold because it’s been two to three years since we’ve seen something along these lines,” he said.
The last time there were three days in a row with the average daily temperature below 20 degrees was in 2009 for Albany, 2010 for Buffalo, and 2011 for Syracuse, DeGaetano said.
“For most places, last winter was among the warmest on record,” DeGaetano said. “So far, we’re also running warmer than normal this winter.”
The cold snap this week isn’t likely to change that, when temperatures are averaged out for the whole winter, he said.