Déjà vu: Third March storm brought most snow

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

The second of the three March snowstorms, on Saturday, March 11, brought more pretty views, like this one along Brandle Road in Guilderland, than power outages with its wet snow.

ALBANY COUNTY — After a mild winter while on the cusp of spring, the county has been walloped with three wet snowstorms in quick succession.

The first of the three March storms began on Friday, March 3, and continued into Saturday.

Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber called that heavy, wet snow “unique” and described for The Enterprise how town crews took two hours clearing downed trees from Route 20 before the plows could begin their work.

Town Hall and State Police barracks off of Route 20 were without power and the town buildings housing emergency medical services had power that was “spotty at times,” Barber said. Guilderland maintains a list of at-risk residents and those on life support, Barber said, for whom the town sent people to check.

The second March snowstorm was the following Saturday, March 11, and again brought heavy, wet snow to the area but not nearly as much.

The latest storm, a nor’easter, was still ongoing Tuesday night as the weekly print edition of The Enterprise went to press.

Snow began falling Monday afternoon at which time Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced a state of emergency would go into effect countywide at 8 p.m. because of the possibility of “falling and drifting snow, high winds … sustained and low visibility over a period of time, causing dangerous road conditions that may pose a threat to public safety.”

On Monday night, McCoy sent out a release announcing that county offices would be closed on Tuesday — although employees who are able will work remotely — and would reopen on Wednesday, March 15.

This did not apply to the county’s nursing home, departments of public works and general services, water purification district, or sheriff’s office.

On Tuesday morning, McCoy issued a release saying, “Our DPW crews have been working diligently throughout the night to clear the roads but the snow is coming down fast. That means it is a battle to keep up. I continue to urge those who can to work from home and to stay off the roads to allow for emergency and essential services personnel to get to work and to do their jobs.”

The town of Guilderland set up three firehouses as warming stations where volunteers were prepared to offer food and cots but few people used the facilities despite widespread power outages.

In eastern New York, more than 60,000 of the 110,000 National Grid customers without power had had their service restored, according to a Tuesday evening release from the company. The hardest-hit counties include Columbia, Essex, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington.

In central New York, more than 3,000 of the 3,600 impacted customers had had their service restored by Tuesday evening.

National Grid positioned a field force of more than 3,000 workers ahead of the storm with help coming from as far away as Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Canada. 

“An ongoing, powerful nor’easter continues to bring heavy, wet snow and high winds to the region,” said the Tuesday evening National Grid release. “Where it is safe to do so, crews are removing extensive damage — including downed wires, trees, tree limbs, broken poles and other hazards – while focusing on public safety and service restoration.

“The challenging weather conditions, which have included more than two feet of snow and wind gusts in excess of 40 mph in some locations, are expected to continue through Wednesday and could bring additional power outages.”

Governor Kathy Hochul held a press briefing on Monday, urging New Yorkers to stay safely at home during what she said would be a “dangerous storm.”

She said 100 National Guard members had been positioned in eastern New York, expected to be the hardest hit, and issued a state of emergency for counties in the eastern part of the state, north of Westchester County.

On Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office reported on heavy snow overnight in several upstate regions that was expected to continue through Wednesday.

Some parts of the North Country got nearly two feet of snow with peak snowfall rates of six inches per hour while parts of the Capital Region received a foot-and-a-half of snow, and the Mid-Hudson and the Southern Tier Regions received more than a foot of snow since Monday night, the Tuesday afternoon report said.

Heavy, wet snow was expected to continue with gusty winds up to 45 miles per hour that would increase the chances of power outages. Impacted regions were forecast to receive up to an additional foot snowfall by Wednesday morning.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, there were approximately 87,000 power outages statewide as a result of the storm, with the majority of outages impacting counties in the Capital Region, the governor’s office said.

At the same time, the state’s Thruway Authority, Police, and Department of Transportation had lifted all previous restrictions on tandem and empty tractor-trailers that began Monday evening.

“As power restoration and snow removal efforts continue, please check on your neighbors and loved ones to make sure they are weathering the storm safely,” said the state’s Homeland Security and Emergency Services commissioner, Jackie Bray, in the release.

Multiple winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect for the eastern part of New York State, north of New York City, and additional warnings or advisories may be issued, the governor’s office said. Visit the National Weather Service website for listings.


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