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Latest developments: Schenectady County to lift state of emergency

Latest developments: Schenectady County to lift state of emergency

Albany County offices to open
Latest developments: Schenectady County to lift state of emergency
A car is cleared in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

As a blizzard drops snow on the Capital Region, and much of the Northeast, check back for updates. You can also check school closings, the weather forecast and traffic.

8:45 p.m. — Albany County offices to open

Albany County offices will open Wednesday, county Executive Daniel P. McCoy said in a news release. The state of emergency remains in effect.

8:15 p.m. — Schenectady County to lift state of emergency

Schenectady County will lift its state of emergency at 5 a.m. Wednesday.  The county travel ban will end at the same time.

7 p.m. — Amsterdam to lift state of emergency

Amsterdam will lift its state of emergency at 6 a.m. Wednesday, while its snow emergency parking ban remains in effect. 

6 p.m. — CDTA abbreviated schedule

The Capital District Transportation Authority has reduced its bus routes for the night.

Buses will run on select snow routes through the end of the service day, but all other routes were suspended at 6:30 p.m., the transportation authority said in a news release. Normal service will resume Wednesday.

The routes still running include Nos. 10, 12, 13, 18, 22, 450 and 905. All existing reservations through STAR will be honored, the authority said.

The customer service center is open until 7 p.m. as usual.

“We want to thank our entire operations and maintenance staff for their dedication and professionalism throughout Winter Storm Stella,” the authority said in a prepared statement. “We understand it has not been an easy day out on the roads, but we want to assure you, we are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our operators, customers, and our fleet. Again, thank you to our customers for their patience as we navigated our way through this latest round of winter weather.”

5 p.m. — Montgomery County travel ban

Officials in Montgomery County appealed to the state Office of Emergency Management to declare a countywide state of emergency. The order was granted about 4 p.m. and includes a countywide travel ban. 

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa also declared a citywide state of emergency, including a travel ban on all city streets. 

Montgomery County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Rick Sager said plows in Amsterdam and countywide were having trouble keeping up with the rate of snowfall this afternoon. 

Officials decided to call for the state of emergency “after we started to see more vehicles getting stuck and running off the road ... and it also opens up the roadways for the plows so they don’t have work around cars.” 

Sager said all non-essential travel in the county is banned, and that those found to be travel without a valid reason will be ticketed. 

“If you’re at work and you’re on your way home that’s OK, it’s just no unnecessary travel,” he said. 

The state of emergency is good for 30 days while the travel restriction is valid for five days unless lifted. Sager said he expects the travel order to be lifted early Wednesday morning. 

He added about 3 p.m. Tuesday that the county has seen more than 14 inches of snow. 

“At this point, the snow plows can't keep up with the snow at the rate that it’s falling,” Sager said. “We have at least one town in the county that has a plow in the ditch.” 

Schoharie County Sheriff Anthony Desmond said Tuesday afternoon that his county is getting pounded as well. 

“We have cars that are stuck, the roads are in poor shape," Desmond said. “The crews are doing the best they can but it's just snowing so hard they can't keep up with it.”

Desmond said a county plow truck was overturned on Engleville Road in the town of Sharon. The drivers sustained minor injuries and were transported to Cobleskill Hospital via an EMS technician’s private four-wheel-drive vehicle. 

The county has declared a state of emergency. All county roads are restricted to essential traffic.

In Fulton County, officials were working to get a state of emergency declared as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Gloversville Mayor Dayton King and Sheriff Richard Giardino. Fulton County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Santamaria could not be reached for comment. 

King said he declared a state of emergency in Gloversville that’s set to go into effect from 11 p.m. Tuesday night to 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.  During this time there is no parking on city streets as road crews perform snow removal. 

“We will tow cars if they’re out on city streets," he said. "We certainly want to avoid that but if you’re out on the streets get off of them."

King said the city has 12 workers manning six plow trucks and a bucket loader in the city. 

“It’s a mess honestly. We’ve actually requested help from the state,” he said. “If you don’t have  four-wheel-drive truck you’re not getting through.” 

King estimated the snow was falling at a rate of three inches per hour Tuesday afternoon. 

“This might be the worst I’ve ever seen this fast,” he said of the accumulation rate. 

Giardino reported similar conditions throughout the county.

“We’ve got a ton of vehicles off the road, we had a tractor-trailer jackknife in Broadalbin, we have cars left on the side of the road,” he said. “We’ve actually had a couple tow trucks get stuck.”

3:45 p.m. — Even more emergencies

Montgomery County has declared a state of emergency, while Gloversville and the village of Scotia have issued snow emergencies.

In Montgomery County, all travel on roadways will be restricted after 4 p.m.

In Gloversville, the snow emergency will begin at 11 p.m. and will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday. Parking will be prohibited on all city streets. 

In Scotia, the snow emergency will begin at 8 p.m. and remain in effect until 8 a.m. Wednesday.

2 p.m. — Open or closed, Niskayuna businesses ready for storm

Niskayuna businesses were taking a beating from the blizzard as of Tuesday afternoon, with Target closing for the day at 1 p.m. and the Niskayuna Co-op planning to shutter at 2 p.m.

The three major grocery retailers in town - ShopRite, Hannaford and Price Chopper - were still open "for now."

It was "business as usual" for Niskayuna Town Hall. Though department heads reported to work, there have been "no customers."

Niskayuna Central School District canceled classes and activities early in the morning -- at 4:45 a.m. 

11:20 a.m. — Albany airport grounds flights

ALBANY — If your flight hasn't left Albany yet, it's not going to.

The Albany International Airport announced shortly after 11 a.m. that all remaining flights out today have been canceled due to the ongoing snowstorm.

Some airlines had already canceled flights preemptively Monday, airport officials have said.

Some level of service is expected to resume Wednesday. 

"The airport’s Snow Team began operations shortly before 3 a.m. today and will continue to operate throughout the storm," an airport press release read. "Our primary mission at this point is to keep the airport’s main runway open for air traffic."

Albany International is designated as a port of entry to the country and must stay ready for the arrival of diverted national and international flights for inflight emergencies and medical emergencies.

11:10 a.m. — Cuomo urges New Yorkers to stay home

The state is responding to Blizzard 2017, deploying resources to the hardest-hit areas and continuing to ask residents to stay home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said midmorning.

They're focusing on the Capital District, Mid-Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier as the hardest-hit areas, Cuomo said in a news conference broadcast online. 

Early calls to stay home, he said, have largely been heeded, allowing emergency crews and first responders to do their jobs.

"People are staying off the roads, which is smart and which I encourage," Cuomo said. "Stay inside, view this through the window."

The state has 5,000 pieces of equipment out, mostly plows deployed around the state, Cuomo said.

New York City and Long Island, once feared to be in the worst of the path, are no longer, the governor noted.

"The problem is it is worse than anticipated in other areas of the state," he said.

While staying off the roads, Cuomo suggested if people know of vulnerable residents nearby, they should check in on them.

"This is also the time to be a good neighbor," Cuomo said. "If you have a senior citizen on your block, you have somebody who's home-bound who lives near you, it's a good idea to knock on their door and say hello and make sure everything's OK."

Locally, police agencies echoed the assessment that people are staying home.

With schools and businesses closed, Glenville Police Chief Stephen Janik said residents have really no reason to be out and it's showing.

By midmorning, he said the department logged three calls for property damage accidents, none serious.

All calls, including medical and property checks, totaled eight.

"It's as quiet as a Sunday afternoon," Janik said.

Niskayuna, too. Chief Daniel McManus reported one call for a car in the ditch off Balltown Road, near the Rexford Bridge, another property damage accident and a couple of parking complaints.

"Other than that, we've been pretty fortunate this morning," McManus said, "knock on wood."

10:20 a.m. — Malls, town halls, libraries and more close for the storm

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City police are ready to respond when needed, but officers are trying to limit their travel, too, a department spokesman said this morning. 

The general call volumes on a day like today help them do that - and focus on the more pressing matters of car accidents and other snow-related emergencies, police spokesman Lt. Robert Jillson said.

"We're the same as anybody else in this type of weather," Jillson said.

He added the criminal element usually helps, too, choosing to stay home, as well.

Among the many local government officials looking to help make it a quiet day for police is Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. 

Yepsen declared a state of emergency for the city, closing City Hall, allowing all non-essential city employees to stay home. Yepsen also asked that all residents and travelers to limit use of city roads for the safety of all and to allow plows to do their jobs.

All non-essential Saratoga County employees are being sent home from work at noon, the county administrator said.

Other new declarations and advisories:

  • Colonie joined in the call for no unnecessary travel and to park their vehicles in their driveways or seek alternative off-street parking. 
  • Colonie Center, Crossgates Mall, ViaPort Rotterdam and Clifton Park Center Mall are doing their part, announcing on Twitter or Facebook that they are closed today. Anchor store hours may vary.
  • Schenectady County Public Library locations are closed. Also closed are Schenectady County county offices.
  • Clifton Park Town Hall is closed.
  • Rotterdam declared a snow emergency, ordering no cars parked on town roads until further notice.
  • Albany is on a snow emergency, ordering vehicles to be parked on the even numbered side of the street for the first 24 hours beginning Wednesday night at 8 p.m. and odd side beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a temporary tractor-trailer ban on multiple state interstates, including Interstates 90 and 88.

9:15 a.m. — No mail delivery for much of Capital Region today

ALBANY -- When snow totals are predicted in feet, rather than inches, it's good to give postal carriers a pass on that motto of theirs.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday morning that the snow storm is resulting in no mail deliveries for much of the Capital Region.

Four swaths of ZIP codes were impacted locally: those starting with 123, 122, 121 and 120. That's basically Schenectady, Albany and surrounding areas, according to post office spokeswoman Maureen Marion.

She announced the decision to end deliveries for the day as most local police and government agencies warned residents to stay off the roads. Weather forecasters were calling for up to 2 feet of snow.

It's something that doesn't happen very often, Marion said, but when weather this severe strikes, the post office takes it seriously.

"All in all, we just want to do the right thing," Marion said. "And it's the right thing for today."

Still unaffected: Deliveries in the rain, heat and gloom of night.

As of 9 a.m. -- No semitrailers on several highways

State officials have issued a travel ban for all semitrailers, including tandem semitrailers, along the full length of the following highways: Interstate-81, I-84, I-86/Route 17, I-88, NYS Thruway.

6:50 a.m. — NWS: Storm snowfall will be counted in feet, not inches

The National Weather Service - and looks out the window - reported a few inches on the ground already by 6:30 a.m. 

But this storm is just getting started.

Snow was expected to pick up throughout the morning, with the heaviest snow coming late morning and early afternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Cebulko said.

By the time everything is done, snow fall is expected to be counted in feet, Cebulko said. Morning estimates were between 1 to 2 feet over the region.

"The heaviest of the snow has yet to get here," Cebulko said.

Winds are expected to pick up, too, sustaining at between 15 to 25 mph and gusting up to 45 mph, Cebulko said. 

The heavy snow and high winds will provide a potent combination, he said.

"It will be pretty nasty out there," Cebulko said. "Travel is going to be pretty much near impossible at some points."

The storm has the potential to be one of the top storms ever locally, just not the top storm, according to Cebulko.

Morning estimates for Albany were between 18 to 24 inches when all is said and fallen. 

The top of that range is well within a top-10 storm. The tenth best storm in terms of snow fall came in 2003, piling up 20.8 inches, Cebulko said.

The top 5 might be harder to crack, but not unattainable. The fifth best storm totaled 24.5 inches in 1983; No. 2 came in 1993, with 26.6 inches.

While big, it appears #Blizzard2017 won't come close to the top storm on the list, #Blizzard1888. That storm, 129 years ago this week, dumped a whopping 46.7 inches - nearly four feet.

6:30 a.m. — Schenectady, Albany County declare state of emergency

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy declared a state of emergency in the city this morning, calling in extra emergency service personnel and requesting that everyone else stay home.

McCarthy's order goes into effect at 7 a.m. The mayor cited an upgrade from a National Weather Service storm warning to a blizzard warning. 

"Emergency services in the City of Schenectady will staff additional personnel to handle any issues that may arise from the impending snow storm," a Schenectady press release reads. 

McCarthy also asked that everyone refrain from non-essential or non-emergency travel on city roads for the duration of the storm.

Also this morning, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy declared a similar state of emergency, closing all county offices 

 “We have nearly 50 plows out on our roads and we need to keep people off of them in order to keep those roads clear,” McCoy said in a statement.

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