Friday, February 9, 2007

Snow keeps upstate New York shoveling

While the northern Plains and Northeast shiver in dangerously cold temperatures, the folks in upstate New York are keeping warm shoveling snow -- lots of snow.

Since Sunday, the small towns of Parish and Mexico have recorded more than 6 feet of snow, and forecasters with the National Weather Service say it isn't over yet.

The area received a short reprieve Thursday as the squalls shifted south into Syracuse, where between 4 and 8 inches fell.

The lake-effect bands moved back north in the evening and were expected to strengthen overnight.

"We're just trying to keep up. It's almost an unreal amount," said Mayor Randy Bateman of Oswego, where 70 inches of snow had fallen by Thursday morning. "We catch up when it stops, but then it just comes again, even heavier."

Gov. Eliot Spitzer declared a state disaster emergency for the county Thursday, authorizing all state agencies to help assist municipalities and residents in the storm-wracked region along eastern Lake Ontario. (Watch snowfall in upstate New York that's created both beauty and frustration Video)

Late Thursday the northern parts of Oswego County were accumulating as much as 3 inches per hour, said Dave Sage, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. At times, the snow has fallen at a rate of as much as 5 inches an hour.

"I'm sure before morning there's going to be three or four areas that have up to 100 inches [in Oswego County]," Sage said.

Whiteout conditions forced state police to temporarily close Interstate 81 between Central Square and Pulaski, a stretch of about 15 miles.

Travel advisories against unnecessary travel were posted for Oswego and its neighboring counties. Mexico officials renewed a snow emergency declaration, and many government offices were closed.
Schools were closed for a fourth day in Oswego and Mexico.

Temperatures in the Northeast inched back up to something closer to normal for this time of year, but the upper Midwest and northern Plains still awoke to subzero temperatures Thursday -- minus-12 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 3 below zero in Chicago, Illinois.

The bitter cold and slippery roads have contributed to at least 20 deaths -- 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.

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