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Winter storm strikes

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As of late Saturday afternoon, nearly 9,200 Jefferson and St. Lawrence county residents were without power in what National Grid has called the worst ice storm to hit the north country in 15 years.

“It’s the largest crew we’ve had out there since 1998,” said Karen Young, a media representative for National Grid, referring to the 1,600 National Grid workers currently on the scene working to restore power.

During the infamous January 1998 storm, between 3 and 5 inches of ice coated the north county and, according to the Weather Channel, an estimated 500,000 people across the Northeast were without electricity — some for weeks.

According to the National Weather Service, an estimated 1 inch of ice fell in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties Saturday.

“We were prepared,” Ms. Young said. “I’m sure the workers are working as hard as possible to restore power to customers.”

But the storm isn’t over just yet. An additional 13 of an inch is forecasted to fall over the area Sunday, bringing the storm total closer to 1 inches. Reports said the St. Lawrence Valley could receive 2 inches.

Local and state authorities were quick to act. St. Lawrence County was under a State of Emergency on Saturday night, as well as a travel advisory issued by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

The State of Emergency, which went into effect at 5 p.m. Saturday, barred non-emergency travel countywide. According to a news release issued by St. Lawrence County, the conditions “threaten the public safety of the citizens of St. Lawrence County.”

In Jefferson County, a hotline was established Saturday night by Jefferson County Emergency Management. The non-emergency hotline is designed for those needing information on the location of local shelters, any active evacuation plans and information on how to receive aid from the Red Cross, among others.

The number is (315) 786-6940.

From the moment the hotline was operational at approximately 6:45 p.m., Emergency Management said the phone was “ringing off the hook.”

National Grid said it was hoping to restore power to all of Jefferson County by 6:00 p.m., but as of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, nearly 7,200 Jefferson County residents were without power.

Ms. Young said National Grid hoped to have power restored to St. Lawrence County by 8:30 p.m. Saturday. As of 8:00 p.m., roughly 1,400 customers remained without power.

Lewis County appeared to have missed the worst of the storm. Despite the thousands of people without power in neighboring counties, there were no reported power outages in Lewis County as of 8 p.m. Saturday.

But Lewis County, as well as the rest of Central and Northern New York, remained under a flood watch until 10 p.m. Sunday.

The Ice Storm Warning currently in effect in Jefferson, Lewis and Northern and Southwestern St. Lawrence counties expires at 11:00 p.m. Sunday.

Throughout the storm, authorities urge the public to be safe. A media release issued by the Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management stressed the importance of minimizing travel and staying indoors if possible and the Sheriff’s department issued a no-travel advisory, effective 6:00 p.m. Saturday. As of mid-afternoon Saturday, the Watertown Police Department had responded to seven motor vehicle accidents in the city. Snowy or icy conditions were present in six, and freezing rain was directly responsible for one.



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