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Nor’easter blows through Twin Counties

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    Lance Wheeler/for Columbia-Greene MediaAmtrak crews do some non-stop shoveling at the Hudson train station on Front Street on Wednesday afternoon. Amtrak trains ran on a reduced schedule because of the heavy snow.
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    Lance Wheeler/for Columbia-Greene MediaA view from Bliss Towers in Hudson as snow started to pile on the city Wednesday afternoon.
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    Photo contributedSnow covered every surface in South Durham by early Wednesday afternoon.
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    Photo contributedSnow covered every surface in South Durham by early Wednesday afternoon.
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    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media Snow was lightly falling on Warren Street in Hudson early Wednesday. Columbia and Greene counties are expected to get 12-18 inches of snow, beginning in the afternoon.
March 7, 2018 03:08 pm Updated: March 7, 2018 06:54 pm

Heavy snowfall covered the Twin Counties on Wednesday as communities braced for the brunt of the region’s second snowstorm in five days.

Snow fell on and off Wednesday morning, but the heart of the storm hit in the afternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Christina Speciale said.

“The nor’easter is getting its act together as it moves north from New Jersey and the NYC area,” she said.

The storm was expected to hit the Mid-Hudson Valley on Wednesday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., reaching Ulster and Greene counties just in time for the evening commute.

Snowfall reached a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour, with more accumulation in higher elevations.

“If people do go to work today, the evening commute will be highly impacted,” Speciale said Wednesday afternoon.

Over 60 active power outages affected close to 4,000 customers in Central Hudson’s coverage area from Greenville to Newburgh as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to power company’s website.

In Greene County, crews were on-site around East Durham and Earlton. They estimated power should be restored to those areas by early Wednesday evening.

National Grid reported multiple outages near East Chatham and North Chatham, Hollowville, Craryville and Shandaken, with restoration timeframe listed on the website.

Greene County residents reported 6.5 inches of snowfall in East Freehold and 3 inches in Greenville early Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Columbia residents reported 5 inches in East Philmont early Wednesday evening.

High snowfall rates are predicted to continue through Wednesday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday with an expected total accumulation of 10 to 14 inches in the Twin Counties with higher amounts falling in the southeast and higher elevations in Greene County.

“Though the snow accumulation is perfect for skiers, drivers should be cautious,” Speciale said. “If people clean off cars and sidewalks this evening, there could be another covering by the morning.”

In addition to the heavy snowfall, 20-30 mph winds reduced visibility throughout the region. The wind could be stronger in areas east of the Hudson River because it’s closer to the coastal storm, Speciale said.

“We now have heavy snow conditions with limited visibility,” Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John DeRocha said late Wednesday afternoon. “We are receiving multiple reports of vehicles off the roads, but as of this time only receiving reports that vehicles are stuck due to snow conditions. No accidents [have been] reported.”

Police responded to numerous accidents throughout Greene County during the storm, Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said.

“But so far there has been nothing serious,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “There have been some reports of disabled vehicles, crashes and people running off the road, but no serious accidents.” 

State police Troop K, which serves Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, reported a total of 10 disabled vehicles, 19 property damage auto accidents and one personal injury auto accidents Wednesday as of 4 p.m. 

Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore added extra patrols in the city Wednesday night in anticipation of the inclement weather, he said.  

Two minor property damage accidents were reported in the city as of 4:30 p.m. One crash occurred at the corner of Warren Street and Worth Avenue after a car slid into a pole. The other accident occurred outside 507 Warren St. after a driver skidded into the back of another driver’s vehicle, Moore said. No one was injured as a result of either crash.

Snow showers could linger into Thursday morning’s commute, which are expected to create slushy conditions, according to the National Weather Service. The Winter storm warning ends at 7 a.m. on Thursday. Residents who live at higher elevations in the Catskill Mountains could get between 18 to 24 inches.

“The way the storm is tracking, Western New England and Dutchess and Columbia [counties] could get more snow accumulation than what Albany receives,” Speciale said.

Tractor-trailers were banned on the Thruway from Exit 36 in Syracuse to New York City, including the Berkshire Spur to the Massachusetts State Line, Interstate 95, Garden State Parkway Connector and Interstate 287. The ban is also in effect for Interstate 88 Binghamton to Albany, Interstate 81 Pennsylvania to the Thruway, Route 17 Binghamton to Interstate 84, Interstate 84 Connecticut to Pennsylvania and Interstate 684 from I-84 to I-287, according to state police.

The state Thruway Authority issued the ban early Wednesday. Police will stop and ticket any driver violating the ban, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Amtrak’s Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Amtrak Keystone Service and Amtrak Empire Service lines ran on a restricted schedule Wednesday because of the storm.

Meanwhile, the Twin Counties are prepared for the worst.

“We’ve had the trucks ready for a day now,” said Robert W. Perry Jr., superintendent of Hudson’s Department of Public Works. “We haven’t declared a snow emergency yet. That might change… We’ll have crews working through the storm, after and coming in early 4 a.m. on Thursday, depending on what we get.”

In the village of Catskill, crews are ready to move snow, Village of Catskill Highway Superintendent Michael F. McGrath said.

“Our trucks are set for the season from the get-go and we’re ready to go and we’ll be able to handle whatever comes in,” McGrath said.

Both communities are enforcing alternate side of the street parking restrictions.

“That helps us out a ton,” McGrath said. “If we are able to get through, we can clean off the streets and get people back to their normal lives.”

Snowfall is expected to continue overnight. Higher elevations could continue to see snow showers into Thursday. The slow-moving system is expected to slow down over the weekend, with scattered showers continuing on Friday and winding down Saturday at midnight.

Though the snow will be slightly wetter than normal, it won’t be nearly as sloppy and wet as Friday’s storm because the temperatures are colder.

“It’s not particularly dry or wet, just typical snow,” Speciale said.

Conditions were not as severe as Friday’s nor’easter, which left more than 17,000 people in the Twin Counties without power, but the back-to-back storms may have weakened trees, Central Hudson spokesman John Maserjian said, adding heavy accumulation could cause them to topple.

“We are still concerned with the potential for outages because the snow that’s falling is packable and somewhat wet and has weight,” he said. “There will be some winds, though not as strong and long-lasting, but combining the heavy snow with winds can cause problems in terms of tree damage.”

The power company had a lineup of additional crew members that traveled from as far as Canada and the Midwest to help restore power after Friday’s storm.

Many Central Hudson customers in Greene County who lost power in the storm remained in the dark until Monday, with a few getting power back on Tuesday, Maserjian said.

“We have a much larger complement of personnel and vehicles,” he said.

State police issued a statement late Tuesday asking motorists to use caution, avoid unnecessary travel and be alert for potential road closures.

“State Police Troop K members will be out across the region checking all major routes of travel to ensure that motorists are as safe as possible,” according to a statement from state police. “We are asking for your assistance to make this possible. Motorists traveling in areas impacted by the snow are asked to leave with extra time to make a slow and careful drive to your destination.”

State police offered the following tips for motorists:

•Get the latest weather forecast before leaving with your local weather apps, monitor radio or TV stations

•In white-out conditions, turn on your hazard or four-way lights to enhance visibility of your vehicle

•Always clean your windows and mirrors fully of any snow and ice before driving

• Keep a full tank of gas

• Ensure your vehicle’s fluid levels are sufficient, especially windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze

• Ensure the spare tire is sufficient and you have the jack and wheel wrench

• Use headlights at all times to increase your visibility

• Drive prudently. If the conditions are adverse you should decrease your speed accordingly

• Look down the road for potential hazardous

• Brake early

• Do not use cruise control. This decreases your reaction time to apply brakes

• If you do not absolutely have to go out onto the roads, then do not

• Be aware of all emergency vehicles: police, fire, ambulances, town trucks, tow trucks, and maintenance vehicles