Capital Region residents are expected to enjoy — or endure — their first real taste of winter weather today.
Some late autumn accumulations have forced people to sweep light snow off house steps and brush flakes off car windshields, but George Maglaras, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, believes people will be using shovels this weekend. By early Friday afternoon, the service had posted a winter storm watch for the area.
“There could be flurries in the morning, but in terms of accumulating snow it probably won’t start until very late in the morning or early afternoon,” Maglaras said. “Even through most of the daylight hours it will be relatively light. The heavier, more rapidly accumulating snow will come after dark and continue most of the night and taper off just before sunrise. There could be some light snow falling during Sunday morning.”
A winter storm warning — which Maglaras said forecasters issue if 9 inches of snow or more is expected during a 24-hour period — is still a possibility.
“Right now, we’re on the threshold,” he said. “Will we get more than that, will we get less than that? So we still haven’t made up our minds yet. We’re going to get plowable snow out of this. It’s just a matter of will it be more in the 4-, 5-, 6-inch range, or will be it be 8, 9, 10 inches?”
Timing is everything for this storm. Snow is not expected to make a dramatic entrance.
“A lot of times, even 7, 8, 9, 10 inches of snow spread out over 24 hours does not have the same impact as having it fall in an eight- to 12-hour period, as can occur with some storms,” Maglaras said. “The impact is considerably different.”
The prospect of snow — and advance notice provided by weather and media outlets — convinced some people to prepare for outdoor and indoor scenarios.
Duane Leach, who owns All Seasons Equipment in Scotia, said his snowblower and snowmobile lines get busy when the first signs of a snowstorm appear. People were talking Friday about the coming weather.
“It’s definitely sparked our business,” he said. “Because of the lack of snow the last couple years, people have to have a real need, they have to be scared a little bit. When that happens, with newscasts or weather reports, that’s what jars them loose and starts things rolling for us.”
During winters when heavy snow doesn’t show up until the middle or end of January, Leach said, some people will put off purchases of snowblowers and snowmobiles until the next year. With accumulation expected this weekend, Leach said his snowblower service personnel were busy Friday.
“Lots of calls for repairs, tires that were flat. And there have been calls for no-starts,” he said.
Don Bisgrove, general manager of the Niskayuna Consumers’ Cooperative Supermarket, said all his parking spots were taken at one point.
“We had a very brisk morning,” he said. “It’s usually fairly busy. The guys have been hustling all morning.”
He was expecting a larger crowd this morning, when people try to complete their shopping just before the snowfall’s expected start. With a weekend storm, and kids home from school, Bisgrove said some items are more popular than others.
“Everybody buys junk food. They stock up on soda and chips,” he said. “They figure they’ll be snowed in with the TV for a while.”
Another group of people will head into the weather. Seventeen hundred runners have signed up for Albany’s Last Run 5K road race. The race, which begins at 5 p.m., puts athletes on downtown streets and into Washington Park.
Melli Rose, director of special events for the city of Albany, expects the race to proceed as scheduled.
“We plan to go ahead,” she said. “The forecast indicates the heavier accumulation will come after the race has finished.”
Rose said registered runners will be notified by email if plans change. Runners can also read updates at the city’s special events website, www.albanyevents.org.
Rose believes runners enjoy challenging the elements.
“I would think so,” she said. “Maybe it adds to the seasonal mood. I’m not personally a runner, but I’ve heard from some of the runners, and they enjoy the winter run. They’re warming up in the cool weather. … It can be refreshing for them. It’s not a 99-degree day in July.”
Brett Kucharski, owner of Northeast Landscaping in Ballston Lake, plows during the winter months. He expects to be busy sometime today.
“It depends on when it comes,” he said of the snow.
Some of Kucharski’s clients want their lots plowed after 2 inches of snow has covered the pavement, so he has to keep going back.
“Sometimes it’s happened where we’re out 24 hours,” Kucharski said. “I think my record is 42.”
If forecasts are correct, Kucharski will be out Saturday evening and early Sunday morning.
“If they’re right,” he said. “We’re supposed to have already been out a few times.”