Nemo finds way into region


Recorder News Staff

The Mohawk Valley spent the better part of Friday looking for Nemo. He eventually showed up.

Warnings about one of the worst snow storms in years left folks in these parts scratching their heads as flurries sprinkled slowly from the sky, but the worst was yet to come.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ian Lee said this region was expected to get between eight inches and a foot of snow overnight into today's daybreak.

Flurries turned into big flakes at about 6 p.m., a full day after a snow emergency was called in the city of Amsterdam, and hours after school would have been dismissed. But most local superintendents had called for snow days or early dismissals Thursday night.

City Department of Public Works General Foreman Ray Halgas said crews were ready to go by 6 a.m., and spent the morning pretreating roads, but he sent most crew members home early Friday afternoon to wait for heavier precipitation.

"You try to plan a day ahead, so we have to go by what the forecast is. It said we were supposed to have two-to-four inches on the ground by now, but the all the streets are black. It's a waiting game at this point," Halgas said around 2 p.m.

The streets were noticeably bare in another way, too -- no vehicles parked on them, in accordance with the city's revised winter parking ordinance that prohibits vehicles on the streets during snow emergencies.

The Amsterdam Police Department utilized social media, a robo-call and roughly 300 informational packets to advise people their cars would be towed if non-compliant. It also released information about available parking lots and when certain lots became full.

Fortunately, Chief Gregory Culick said through 6 p.m. Friday, there was near 100 percent compliance with the new law.

"The heavy part of the storm hasn't come, and people are still coming home from work, so I'm anxious to see if it will hold up," he said. "But last night we went on a campaign to let people know about the law, because it's so new, and we're trying to give people fair warning. It would be a rude awakening in the morning to see your car gone."

"All in all, we're pretty thrilled. It seems people would rather deal with the inconvenience than have their car towed."

Halgas said he was surprised about compliance when he took a ride around the city before work Friday morning.

"I couldn't believe how many people found a place to put their cars," he said. "It will sure make our job a lot easier with no cars on the streets."

Lee said the last time the region was blanketed with a foot of snow was two years ago. He said 13.4 feet was clocked on Jan. 12, 2011.

This winter has been mild, too, Lee said. So far, 19.7 inches have accumulated this year, when the normal value by now is just over 37.

"It's another below normal year," he said.

Halgas said he had 200 tons of salt and the salt/sand mixture ready for use Friday, roughly a quarter of what's been used this winter to date.

"It's been mild, but even when we only get an inch or two, the ground is cold enough, so it gets cold enough and we get the call from APD," he said. "We still have to be out there."

Lee said intermittent snow showers can be expected today.