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Sixteen inches blanket St. Lawrence County

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CANTON — Sixteen inches and counting.

That’s how much snow Thursday morning’s winter storm dropped on swaths of St. Lawrence County, according to several observers, with the National Weather Service expecting another 2 inches or more overnight into this morning.

While clearing the mess was a relatively straightforward task for most road crews, nature’s fury whipped snow into 6-foot-tall drifts along north-facing buildings and fences around Ogdensburg.

A travel advisory there remained in effect until 3:30 p.m. Thursday as plows battled against the elements.

By 3 p.m., Canton’s road crews were finishing their fifth runs over the 101 miles of road cleared by the town, a process that had begun a full 12 hours earlier. Highway Superintendent Terry L. Billings said Canton’s plows were able to work relatively unhindered by other traffic, thanks in part to how long it took many people to dig their way out of their driveways and out onto the roads.

“That was one good thing,” said Mr. Billings, who said 16 inches of accumulation seemed to be the tally most consistently measured around Canton.

St. Lawrence County Undersheriff Scott Bonno said the closure of schools and colleges for the winter break also helped keep traffic light. The storm also resulted in temporary closures of many libraries, local government buildings and businesses, including the St. Lawrence Centre mall in Massena.

Kit W. Smith, director of Ogdensburg’s Department of Public Works, said the situation there was gradually improving later Thursday.

“We’ve got all the streets opened up at this point,” he said. “We’re working on parking lots, city sidewalks. People are going to have to be patient. This is the biggest storm we’ve had in quite a few years.”

Some city residents took matters into their own hands. Kenneth Hale pushed snow off Dearborn Avenue with a small John Deere tractor.

“I had 30 inches of snow on my driveway this morning,” he said. “I haven’t seen that much snow fall in one burst in the 24 years I’ve lived here.”

Other places in the north country escaped the towering drifts, partially because of the Adirondacks and their foothills, said National Weather Service forecaster Eric C. Evanson. The St. Lawrence Valley is prone to stronger winds that accelerate as they blow through, he said.

Mr. Evanson said the storm was a nor’easter, forming off the New Jersey coast and moving along New England.

Another system, which caused severe weather along the Gulf of Mexico and heavy snow in the Midwest, was just west of Watertown,

“Your area has seen some of the highest snow totals across the north country,” Mr. Evanson said. “In this case, that western low is helping to enhance the snow across Northern New York.”

Mr. Evanson said the snow would taper off as both systems moved northeast out of the area.

“We’ll still see some additional accumulations, but after midnight things will really start to quiet down,” he said. “You could see another 2 to 4 inches of snow.”

Despite the drifts, businesses in Ogdensburg mostly were open for business, but many restaurants that usually offer delivery service kept their drivers off the road Thursday. One exception was the Dirty Gringo, whose drivers did brave the icy streets.

“We deliver every day, no matter what,” said employee Rick J. Bromle.

Heavy snow kept St. Lawrence County’s Meals on Wheels drivers off the road Thursday, though officials said they hope the program will be able to resume today.

St. Lawrence County offices in Canton remained open, however, which proved a boon for Marc C. Morley and his Hot Tamale restaurant on Main Street.

“A lot of county people are hungry today,” he said, rattling off a list of county agencies to which the restaurant had made lunch deliveries. Walk-in traffic was lighter than usual, Mr. Morley said, but the restaurant’s sidewalks were being kept clear for anyone who might pass by.

By noon, J. Bradshaw Mintener was undertaking his second serious bout of shoveling outside the Pear Tree gift shop farther up Canton’s Main Street — also open, and also having seen a few customers despite the inhospitable weather.

“This reminds me of my home state of Minnesota,” Mr. Mintener said as he tossed another scoop of snow onto the growing pile looming above the pavement.


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