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Monday was coldest day since 2005

Monday was coldest day since 2005

One man died shoveling; residents cope with snow-covered roads, stressed-out furnaces and frozen pipes
Monday was coldest day since 2005
Ron Bucciero of Saratoga Springs shovels out his car on Union Avenue on Monday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

CAPITAL REGION -- The sun sometimes came out on Monday, but woe to those who went out thinking that meant warmth.

The region's biggest snowstorm in nearly two years was followed immediately by an Arctic blast -- the coldest day in more than a decade, causing what the National Weather Service called "dangerous, life-threatening conditions."

The combination of heavy snow and bitter cold contributed to one local death. Frank Demasi, 70, died outside his residence at 356 Mohawk Ave., Scotia. His body was discovered about 5:40 a.m. by a village public works crew plowing snow. An autopsy determined that he had died from a heart attack sometime after going outside about 8 p.m. Sunday, Scotia police said.

The high temperature recorded at Albany International Airport on Monday was 3 degrees above zero, the coldest daily high temperature in Albany since Jan. 21, 2005, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Christina Speciale. Areas to the north and west of Albany were even colder.

"It's been almost 15 years since we had a daytime high that was less than 4 degrees," she said.

That cold was accompanied by winds that blew flags out straight, bringing wild chills estimated at minus 30 in Schenectady Monday morning. There were wind-chill advisories in the valleys and wind-chill warnings at higher locations. Temperatures in some locations Sunday night were double-digits below zero.

Tuesday morning is expected to have sub-zero temperatures, with winds sometimes exceeding 30 mph overnight. National Weather Service wind chill warnings and advisories that were to expire at 6 p.m. Monday were extended until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

"Those who are going to work tomorrow, bundle up," Speciale said. "It's still going to be very cold for the morning commute. Children waiting at the bus stop, it's going to be very, very cold."

In the wake of the weekend storm that dropped between 12 and 18 inches of snow, most municipal states of emergency were canceled Monday, but roads remained messy and there was plenty of work for plow operators clearing commercial parking lots and driveways.

"Residents are encouraged to stay indoors, and if you have to go out, bundle up," Schenectady County officials said in a storm advisory on Sunday that also covered the cold. "Residents are advised to check on their neighbors, friends, and relatives." 

The state Department of Transportation remained on a 24-hour storm coverage schedule, though it was expected to wind down Monday evening. Trucks were out salting and plowing where the icy winds were causing drifting snow.

"We're really just monitoring things now," said DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani. "The big concern is blowing and drifting snow, and some icy patches underneath."

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said his office handled 156 calls during the storm, but few were for accidents and there were no serious accidents. Most calls, he said, were complaints about things like people plowing snow into the road. He said there were no significant travel problems on Monday.

"We did travel advisory in place and people heeded it," Zurlo said. "There were very few vehicles out there to interfere with plow operations."

Town highway crews that worked through the weekend continued to do cleanup work on Monday, although it was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for most government workers.

"We have plowed all town roads at least four times since Saturday evening and will continue with additional runs throughout Monday," the Niskayuna Highway Department said on the town website. "Due to the amount of snow and freezing temperatures, we are predicting an additional three to four days to get all sidewalks cleared."

The town of Rotterdam responded to a water main break at Clement Road and Edith Lane Sunday night.

People who repair stressed-out furnaces and thaw frozen pipes were also busy.

"We are doing a lot of no heat calls today, and a lot of frozen pipe calls, and we have found the weather and the road conditions themselves are actually hindering us from getting around," said Dave Duell of Duell Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Glenville. "A lot of roads are pretty icy."

It's natural that furnaces break down in the coldest weather, Duell said. "It stresses any heating system quite a bit because it's running on overtime," he said.

People who live in drafty old houses and turn the temperature low in an effort to save on heat can end up with their basement so cold that pipes freeze, he said. "That's our No. 1 call," Duell said.

The good news is that temperatures will rise today to a relatively balmy 20 degrees -- and keep getting warmer.

Beyond that, there's a storm due overnight Tuesday, which will bring a trace to an inch of snow initially, but then turn into sleet and rain as temperatures warm. The rain -- which could be freezing rain at times -- could could last into Thursday morning, changing back to snow at the end, the National Weather Service predicted. High temperatures will be in the mid-30s.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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