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Snow chills in late April

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Days after temperatures in the 70s and 80s led many people to think winter was over, a storm hit the north country with up to several inches of snow Monday, closing or delaying schools across the region.

“We have about 226 miles of road that our buses travel,” said Lauren F. French, superintendent of the Gouverneur Central School District. “We just thought it was a safety issue. My own home had ice on the trees and the windows.”

Forecasters said snowfall this late is not unusual.

“We’ve had significant accumulation into May and even June,” said Tony M. Ansuini, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

But it was late enough that the state Department of Transportation had started removing plows and sanders from its trucks.

“By the early morning hours we had 24 of the 28 trucks out and plowing” in St. Lawrence County, said DOT spokesman Michael R. Flick, adding crews reported to work at 2 a.m.

He added, “There were a few trucks we had to put the plows back on, but that only takes about half an hour.”

Watertown collected only 1 to 2 inches overnight, according to Mr. Ansuini. In Adams, approximately 4 inches was recorded.

In Lewis County, Lowville recorded about 6 inches — the most snowfall in the region Monday.

Canton picked up 4 inches, according to weather service meteorologist Jason E. Neilson in Burlington. Approximately 3 inches was reported in Massena.

Meanwhile, numerous accidents were reported on north country roads Monday, although none was believed to cause injury.

In addition to Gouverneur, schools closed in Canton, Copenhagen, Edwards-Knox, Hermon-DeKalb, Lisbon, Madrid-Waddington and Norwood-Norfolk. Hammond opened 90 minutes late. Clifton-Fine, Colton-Pierrepont, Heuvelton, Massena, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Parishville-Hopkinton and St. Lawrence Central operated on a two-hour delay. Several schools in Jefferson and Lewis counties also opted for two-hour delays.

While the snow may have melted into puddles by noon, early morning conditions were dicey in some areas.

“We originally delayed for two hours around 5:30, because none of the roads were plowed,” said Copenhagen Superintendent Scott N. Connell. “By 8:15, some of the back roads were still not plowed or sanded.”

The irony of late April snow was felt in Massena, where Monday marked the beginning of the village’s annual spring cleanup.

“With the 2 to 3 inches of snow, we had to redirect our focus for the day,” said Hassan A. Fayad, superintendent of the village Department of Public Works. “We spent all morning cleaning up the roads.”

Spring cleanup will continue this week as scheduled. “The problem is all the stuff, especially couches and things like that, that people are putting out is saturated with water,” he said, making the items not only heavier, but more expensive to dispose of.

In comparison, in April 2007, 17 inches of snow buried the north country early in the month. And just two years ago, snow dusted the region on Mother’s Day. The cold snap is expected to linger through the week. Watertown could see snow showers again today and Friday.

“Next week, we’ll see a warming trend back into the 60s,” Mr. Ansuini said.

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