ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Residents in parts of eastern New York dug out from the season's first major storm and thousands of students had a rare snow day Thursday as nearly a foot of snow fell across a region that had been spared any significant winter wallops.
The storm that started on Leap Day kept up its momentum into Thursday morning from the Mohawk Valley eastward to the Vermont border and from the Catskills Mountains north to the Adirondacks. The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals ranging from 6 inches in the Hudson Valley south of Albany to just over a foot in Fonda, in Montgomery County south of the Adirondacks.
Snow turned to rain over parts of the mid-Hudson Valley as the storm slowly tapered off Thursday afternoon.
Most schools in northeastern parts of the state called off classes or delayed their start by several hours. Many districts had a full or nearly full complement of snow days heading into the storm because of the milder-than-normal winter.
People in the Albany area took the wintry conditions in stride, realizing that they've gotten off easy so far. Tommy Tubbs, clearing about a foot of snow from his wife's car in the Albany suburb of Altamont, said the late-season snow made him happy.
"Two reasons. One, my son gets to go out and play in the snow," Tubbs said. "And two, it makes it beautiful to see the snow out on the ground. We just haven't had it this year."
Slick conditions are suspected of causing two tractor-trailer accidents that closed the Thruway's eastbound lanes outside Schenectady from around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday until 1:30 a.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported.
Snow and ice was blamed for an accident that killed one person and injured at least four others in the Hudson Valley town of Newburgh shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday when a car spun out and struck another on Route 32.
Taking a break from snow blowing his sister's driveway, Craig Rhatigan of Altamont said he liked the way the winter was going so far compared to the heavy snows of last winter.
"I think it's going to be another two weeks of this and then it's smooth sailing," Rhatigan said.
Gerry Tschinkel, the vice president of sales and marketing at the Hunter Mountain ski resort in the Catskills, hopes not.
The mountain, which has ample snow-making capability, usually stays open into April and this late season storm has improved the prospects of extending skiing and snowboarding at the 55-trail resort near the lucrative New York City market.
"At the end of the day, the natural snow really energizes the market," Tschinkel said Thursday as he watched the snow pile up on the mountain. About seven inches had fallen by midmorning with up to a foot expected. "It gets people excited and gets them thinking about it."