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'Respectable' snowstorm hits Capital Region

'Respectable' snowstorm hits Capital Region

Different areas see from 4.5 inches to 10
'Respectable' snowstorm hits Capital Region
Harrison Fell, 4, of Saratoga Springs, and his father, Case, slide down a Congress Park hill on Wednesday.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

A day-long snowstorm — which meteorologists described as "respectable" — slowed traffic and closed schools all over the Capital Region on Wednesday.

"I would describe this storm as kind of your average type of snowstorm around here," said Tom Wasula, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

"We get these 6-to-10, 6-to-12 inch snow events and that's what this one is," Wasula said. "I would consider it still a heavy snow amount ... I just had a report come in from Schenectady at seven and a half inches and we've had some reports just north and west of Schenectady getting closer to 10."

RELATED: Some people able to work from home in storm

The storm was not a blockbuster.

"Growing up in this area, a blockbuster would be something producing like 15 to 25 inches of snow," Wasula said. "This was not a blockbuster."

A better descriptive word, he added, might be "respectable."

The weather worked out, at least for people who had to drive to work. The morning commute took place over dry pavement, and many were inside their buildings and on the job by the time the first snowflakes began floating around 9 a.m.

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The weather service released unofficial figures for local communities at 7:35 p.m.

Here's a sampling:

  • South Schenectady, 8 inches.
  • Niskayuna, 8.5 inches.
  • Rotterdam, 4.5 inches.
  • Ballston Lake, 5 inches.
  • Mayfield, 6 inches.
  • Wilton, 8 inches.
  • Amsterdam, 10.5 inches.
  • Fultonville, 11 inches.
  • Albany, 5.2 inches.
  • Cobleskill, 9 inches.
  • Lake Desolation, 10 inches.
  • Duanesburg, 7 inches.
  • Warrensburg, 10 inches.

Brian Montgomery, another meteorologist with the weather service, said sleet replaced snow in some areas during the afternoon hours. Colder air returned during the late afternoon and evening, changing the sleet back to snow.

Once the storm began, snow and the occasional wintry mix put motorists on the alert. In some cases, those conditions put them off the road.

Lt. Dan Morley of the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department said deputies had handled 33 calls for minor accidents, disabled vehicles and cars off the road by 3 p.m. "It's been steady throughout the day," he said.

Sgt. Matt Dearing of the Schenectady Police Department said there had been few accidents in the city by mid-afternoon. "Just drive with caution, if you have to at all," Dearing said in a text message.

Evening activities were canceled in some places. Some branches of the YMCA closed during the afternoon, others closed at 6 p.m.

State Department of Transportation crews worked the DOT's "Region 1," which encompasses Albany, Essex, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. 

Department spokesman Brian Viggiani said 191 trucks were on the roads, including the state's new tow plows.

The plows, purchased in 2015, attach to the the backs of dump trucks. Through hydraulic mechanisms, the plows clear two lanes simultaneously. The plows double their width by swinging out to the side of the truck.

A total of 507 men and women — drivers, mechanics, supervisors, weather monitors — were on the storm detail. Crews began work at 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The first shift eventually cleared highways such as Route 9, Route 20, the Adirondack Northway, Wolf Road and parts of Route 5, and stayed on until 1 p.m. A second crew took over at 1 p.m. and was scheduled to work until 1 a.m.

While snow was expected to end by evening, Viggiani said crews were prepared for long hours out in the cold. "We'll be in clean-up mode well into Thursday, if not beyond," he said, "depending on when the storm finally lifts."

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com.

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