Snow total tops 6 feet in parts of the north country; residents dig out Sunday

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WATERTOWN — The north country was buried in snow this weekend, with some parts of Jefferson County seeing over 70 inches of snow fall within a matter of hours.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul said the state is doing all it can to help get things back on track.

In a video news conference held from Buffalo, which saw similarly historic amounts of snow fall over the weekend, she said more equipment and operators are on their way north Sunday morning to help clear roads. State staff have also visited over 600 mobile home parks in western New York and the north country to check on residents and ensure their homes are kept safe, and are working through more throughout the day.

The governor originally planned to hold her Sunday news conference at the state Department of Transportation facility in Pamelia, but was unable to fly from Buffalo to Watertown due to continued poor weather and icy conditions at Watertown International Airport.

“We’re hoping to reschedule that (visit), but I just spoke to the mayor of Watertown, Jeff Smith, to talk to him about the concerns that he has,” she said.

SLOW PROGRESS ON STREETS

Sunday afternoon, Mayor Smith apologized to city residents for the slow progress being made clearing city streets, saying that over 65 inches had fallen since Thursday night, and the wet, heavy snow was proving difficult to move.

“Due to the amount of wet, heavy snow that has fallen on the city our plow trucks are having difficulty pushing the snow,” he said.

He said the city’s Department of Public Works had to dedicate two crews to extricating stuck plows on Saturday night, slowing down plowing progress even more. He thanked Gov. Hochul for her quick response to the city’s request for aid, and for sending more heavy-duty state plowing equipment to help clear streets that arrived Sunday afternoon.

“Together we will get through this storm like we have in the past,” he said. “Again, I thank city residents for your patience and understanding. Thanks to the city DPW crews for their around-the-clock hard work, and we thank Governor Hochul and NYS DOT for their help.”

More snow was anticipated for Jefferson County into Monday after over three and a half feet have fallen since Thursday.

Oswego and Lewis counties bore the last of the storm Sunday, and could see more than two feet fall by Monday morning, with 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts as well — faster than any wind seen so far in this storm event.

“The band is going to hit Lewis, Oswego and far northern Cayuga counties, and thundersnow is possible,” Gov. Hochul said. “It’s kind of exciting to watch, but it’s also dangerous.”

HEAVY, WET SNOW

While such snowfall isn’t atypical for the north country, the governor said this storm came early in the season and hit hard relatively quickly, dumping a heavy, wet snow that can be difficult to clear.

“When you hit 80 to 85 inches of snow over the course of just a couple days, snow events everywhere from Natural Bridge up in the north country to Orchard Park, that is one to tell your grandkids about,” she said.

Travel bans were implemented as the first of the storm hit the region Thursday night, dropping feet of snow in a narrow band that covered Dexter, the city of Watertown, Fort Drum, Carthage and parts of southern St. Lawrence County. By the time the worst of the storm was finished Saturday midday, over 72 inches of snow fell in Natural Bridge, 57.4 inches fell in Watertown, 54 inches fell on Fort Drum, 47 inches fell in West Carthage and 40 inches fell in Copenhagen, Lewis County, according to the snowfall report from the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

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