Upstate N.Y. Snow: 8 Feet and Counting
By JOHN KEKIS
PARISH, N.Y. – Sunshine greeted residents of this snowbound village on Saturday, giving crews a chance to haul away some of the 8 feet of snow that has fallen during the past week.
“The sun’s out, but it isn’t going to last,” Mike Avery said as he took a brief break from loading dump trucks with snow to be taken to a pile outside town.
The National Weather Service said the bands of lake-effect snow fed by moisture from Lake Ontario would continue weaving up and down the lake’s eastern shore during the weekend, dropping 2 to 4 more feet of snow with wind of up to 25 mph.
“It’s all we need,” Avery said, his tractor dwarfed by the snowbank he was trying to dismantle. “It’s getting monotonous.”
Parish – about 25 miles northeast of Syracuse – reached a milestone early Saturday with 100 inches of snow over the past seven days, the National Weather Service said. Unofficial reports pegged totals at 123 inches in Orwell and 122 in Redfield, but the weather service said those numbers include snow from another storm a couple of days before the current weather system arrived last Sunday. All three towns are in Oswego County.
More than a week of bitter cold and slippery roads have contributed to at least 20 deaths across the northeastern quarter of the nation – five in Ohio, four in Illinois, four in Indiana, two in Kentucky, two in Michigan, and one each in Wisconsin, New York and Maryland, authorities said. No deaths were reported in Oswego County.
It’s been an exhausting week in Oswego County.
“This is right up there with the best of them, almost as bad as the Blizzard of ’66. But there ain’t nothing good about this much snow,” Ray DeLong grumbled as his snowblower clogged and stalled on Friday in nearby Mexico.
Mexico residents see 5- to 6-foot snowfalls every two or three years, but even hardened locals are amazed at the scenes before them now: parked SUVs noticeable only because their antennas or roof racks stand above the snow’s surface; front doors buried, with footprints leading to second-story windows; 6-foot-thick slabs of snow that have slid off roofs, forming colossal arches as they stretch intact to the ground.
Sidewalks look like miniature canyons.
Mark Kelcinski’s son spent two hours Friday with a shovel and snowblower in front of the family’s graphics design shop, carving a path through the snowbank to the street. They have done the same thing each day for five days.
“That’s all we do is shovel and snowblow all day long,” said Kelcinski. “You go home and then come in and do the same thing again the next day.”
The state transportation department said 125 workers from elsewhere in the state had been sent in with snow equipment to help.
The region is located along the Tug Hill Plateau, the snowiest region this side of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a 50-mile wedge of land that rises 2,100 feet from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and catches the snow-laden winter wind blowing off the lake. It usually gets about 300 inches – roughly 25 feet – of snow a year.
The hamlet of Hooker, near the boundaries of Jefferson, Lewis, and Oswego counties, holds the state record for snowfall in a year – 466.9 inches, about 39 feet, in the winter of 1976-77. It sits right next to the hamlet of Montague, which got 77 inches in a 24-hour period in January 1997.