CAPITAL REGION — The nor'easter that swirled into eastern New York on Wednesday — the second big storm in six days — disrupted travel and led to the cancellation of numerous events.
With much of the region still recovering from the March 2 nor'easter that knocked out power to thousands of homes, many communities have issued snow emergencies, and school districts closed early on Wednesday. The Wednesday evening commute was slowed, with numerous reports of vehicles off the road, and snow was expected to continue through midnight.
As of 6 p.m., there were about 6 inches at Albany International Airport.
"The worst is over. It's going to be mainly light from here on out," National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Villani said early Wednesday evening. "It has definitely moved quicker than we thought."
Despite the travel troubles, a low sky awash in white flakes isn't bad news for everyone — like those who sell new snowblowers, or deliver food.
All Seasons Equipment in Glenville, which sells hundreds of snowblowers every winter, was starting to transition to spring until last Friday. But now it has sold 30 snowblowers just in the last few days, owner Duane Leach said.
"Now we've got all kinds of people looking at snowblowers," Leach said Wednesday afternoon. "If it was just a light snow they wouldn't be, but this is a heavy snow."
"We're probably going to be busier than usual," predicted Christine Robinson, manager of Carm's Restaurant in Glenville, who does pizza and other delivery. "People once they get home just want to stay in and order."
The National Weather Service in Albany said snow fell at one point at a rate of 1 to 2 to inches per hour. A revised forecast issued Wednesday afternoon was predicting 8 to 10 inches total for the Schenectady area, with up to 18 inches in higher elevations, including Schoharie County.
In Schoharie County, Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl VanWormer declared a state of emergency at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The declaration, which prohibits non-essential travel on the county's roads, was to be lifted at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
Many parts of Schoharie County were hit with 30 inches or more of snow last Friday, and that's one of the regions officials want people to stay off the roads — the snowbanks are already so high there's little room for more.
"We already have a lot of snow here. The roads have been cleared, but once the snow hits it will be harder for DPWs to push the new snow back," said Colleen Flynn, Schoharie County's emergency manager.
The weight of new snow on farm barn roofs is also a concern, she said, though she said she hopes people have had a chance to clear last Friday's accumulations from large roofs. "That's always a concern," she said.
Transportation across the region was disrupted starting Wednesday morning.
The Albany airport had dozens of departing flights canceled, while Trailways of New York suspended most bus service. People with flight or bus tickets will generally be able to reschedule without additional fees.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a travel advisory for all areas east of Interstate 81, urging people not to travel unless absolutely necessary. The lower Hudson Valley, where hundreds of thousands of people lost power in the earlier storm, was again being hard-hit.
The governor also banned tractor-trailers, buses, box trucks and other high-profile vehicles from the state Thruway east of Syracuse to the New York City line, as well as the entire length of I-88 from Binghamton to Schenectady and many other interstate highways, though not the Northway. That forced dozens of trucks to stay pull off and stay at locations like the Thruway rest area in Guilderland, probably until Thursday morning.
"We are implementing this ban on tractor-trailers so our plow operators, fire, law enforcement and emergency personnel can keep roads clean and respond to emergencies as quickly as possible," Cuomo said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday night.
By Wednesday night, the state Thruway Authority announced the truck ban had been lifted between Exit 24 to Exit 36 for westbound travelers.
In the eight counties of state Department of Transportation Region One, DOT had 170 plow trucks and 192 operators on the road Wednesday, DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said.
The National Weather Service reduced anticipated total snow accumulations after at one point Tuesday night predicting 18 inches in the greater Capital Region. The snow began lightly before dawn, but picked up in intensity Wednesday afternoon, and was expected to continue until around midnight.
The heaviest snow was predicted to hit not the Capital Region but the Berkshires, mid-Hudson Valley and Catskills.
Many communities imposed snow emergency regulations that urged people not to drive, and not to park on the street.
In Schenectady, Mayor Gary McCarthy urged people to drive slowly and not to park on major streets.
"Vehicles parked on priority streets after the accumulation of 3 inches of snow may be ticketed or towed," according to a statement from the mayor's office. "Parking on priority streets may resume only after the entire length of the street has been cleared of snow to the curb."
Clifton Park wants people to avoid parking on the road for 40 hours after snow ends.
"Vehicles parked in the roadway can also create dangerous conditions and can cause problems for our neighbors," said Clifton Park Highway Superintendent Dahn Bull. "Keeping your vehicles parked off the road and reducing travel throughout the storm will help our department make our roads safe."
The weather service is predicting light snow will continue into Thursday, but no more than an additional inch is expected in the greater Capital Region.