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North country receives first significant snowfall

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MASSENA - Flurries finally stuck to the pavement for the first time in the season.

And it wasn’t just in the Tug Hill region, which picked up 8 to 9 inches of lake-effect snow late Sunday through Monday morning. Most of St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties received a little more than a dusting.

Richard J. O’Hanlon, a certified military weather observer from Potsdam, said he measured just under an inch of snow. He noted light snow showers are predicted for Wednesday, and said he expects Massena to get a dusting of up to an inch of snow.

Massena residents expressed mixed reactions to the snowfall, ranging from delight to dread, and in some cases, both.

“I think it’s beautiful; it makes my outdoors (Christmas) lights look great,” Lydia S. Marlar said. “But (winter) lasts too long.”

Ms. Marlar believes the beauty of the season’s first snow makes up for the inconveniences it causes. But by the day after Christmas, she thinks the burden of shoveling, snow-brushing and the cold outweighs the natural beauty of a winter wonderland.

Others would rather not have it at all. Darlene O’Brien hates winter because she walks with a cane, and with the snow and ice she worries she might slip and fall.

Of course, the winter’s first snowfall is inevitable in the north country, and some residents were surprised this season’s first measurable snow hadn’t fallen until Sunday night.

“It surprised me. We should have had it before now,” Sandy F. Romeo said.

Mr. Romeo was not disappointed by the wait. “I wish we didn’t have any until March,” he said.

For many, the season’s first snowfall marks the beginning of the region’s long, dreary and bitterly cold season.

“This is just the first step of what we’re in for,” Sandra R. D’Atri said. “Old Man Winter has come knocking at your door.”

Meteorologist Michael R. Pukajlo with the National Weather Service in the Buffalo area said light snow is expected throughout the week.

“There’s snow showers in the forecast, yes, but you’re not looking at significant accumulation,” he said.

He gathered from reports that southern Lewis and Oswego counties, in the center of the lake-effect snow band, received 8 to 9 inches of snow. Interstate 81 was closed in the Sandy Creek area due to multiple weather related accidents Sunday afternoon, adding hours to the commute for hundreds of drivers heading home following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although the first lake-effect snow waited until the last week of November to fall, Mr. Pukajlo said winter is right on time.

“We’ve had a really nice summer and a relatively decent fall, so people think we’re behind on the snow,” he said. “We’re going to be looking at seasonal, average temperatures for the next week to 10 days.”

Gouverneur received 0.2 inches of snow, nearly missing the storm altogether.

For St. Lawrence County, “we’re expecting below-normal temperatures with on and off snow showers,” said NWS meteorologist Robert J. Schiesser in Burlington, Vt. “We’re a couple of weeks early with these temperatures.”

Staff writer Tim Fenster contributed to this report.

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