Snowstorm Hits Central Ny Bitter Cold Follows

01.03.14 | Bob Price

The first storm of the new year prompted cancellations and kept emergency officials and highway crews busy Thursday as they responded to numerous traffic accidents and worked to keep the roads clear.

More than 8 inches of snow are expected to fall in Tompkins County by the time the storm ends and a winter storm warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Friday. Frigid temperatures moved in overnight and a high of 5 is predicted for Friday. Winds up to 16 mph are expected to make that feel like minus-16.

About 30 motor vehicle accidents were reported in Tompkins County as of early Thursday evening, according to the county’s emergency dispatch center, with two involving injuries.

“It was a busy day,” said Brian Wilbur, assistant director for dispatch operations at the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response.

A one-car accident involving an elderly man at Cayuga and South Titus streets closed a portion of the road near Spencer Street mid-morning. It was not immediately clear if the accident was caused by the inclement weather or by a medical condition, Ithaca Police said.

Across the county, emergency crews responded to calls, including one of a tractor trailer that veered off the road on Route 13 south in Newfield, forcing a portion of the road to be closed and backing up traffic.

No power outages or other road closures were reported.

Many businesses closed early Thursday including the Tompkins County Public Library, which will not reopen until noon today.

Ithaca City School District middle and high school students were released early on their first day back after the holiday break. Elementary school students were released at 2 p.m., their regular time. Superintendent Luvelle Brown opted to open schools Thursday morning after assessing road conditions and speaking with transportation and weather services, he said in his Twitter feed on the district web site.

Newfield, Lansing and Trumansburg schools remain on break through Friday.

Reprieve Saturday

Clear skies are expected Saturday with the temperatures climbing into the mid-20s. However, the storm will rebound by Sunday and deliver a mixed bag of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

“We’re just getting regular snow, but the only unusual part about this is it’s going to be cold,” said David Nicosia, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Binghamton. “We’re talking about some significantly below-normal conditions for this area.”

The area’s normal high this time of year is 29 and the normal low is 17, according to the weather service.

Nicosia said the storm was pulling east Thursday, but will shift north by Friday and draw some frigid Arctic air south into the Southern Tier.

For those who venture out into the cold in the coming days, weather service officials urge dressing in warm layers and cover as much as possible – especially when the temperatures hit close to zero and below.

“We get another shot of it next week, so it looks like the snow is going to be around for a while,” Nicosia said. “The last two winters here have been mild, and this could be one of the coldest we’ve seen for some time — but it’s still a long way out there as far as predictions go.”