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Snowfall is over for now, so city, towns start clearing accumulation

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WATERTOWN - The good news: Temperatures are projected to increase to 45 degrees Saturday and melt much of the snow from this week’s massive storm.

The bad news: It’s going to turn into water and could cause a potential for flooding.

“We’re going to be chasing water,” said Eugene P. Hayes, the city’s public works superintendent.

After brutally cold temperatures and nearly 4 feet of snow earlier this week, the National Weather Service is expecting a heat wave to hit the north country. Starting today, the forecast calls for temperatures to be above freezing over the next five days, with a high of 45 on Saturday and 44 on Monday. The forecast also calls for rain.

With so much snow expected to melt, DPW crews already are making sure the city’s catch basins are clear of debris, Mr. Hayes said. Over the next couple of days, snow piles will become “compacted and drop down,” he said.

Until then, though, the snow cleanup continues, he said. Crews were out soon after the last snowflakes were falling to get the city ready for morning commuters Thursday.

Using a front-end loader and a series of dump trucks, they started removing snow from the city’s parking lots, where drivers found about 80 to 85 percent of parking spaces available for use, Mr. Hayes said. Snowplowing also continued. So will the cleanup, Mr. Hayes said.

“We’ll be hauling away snow from parking lots for the next two weeks,” he said.

To get rid of snow, dump trucks haul it to the city’s concrete snow dump platform behind the Standard Auto Parts store on Mill Street, where it is unloaded into the Black River.

It can get congested there, he said. Not only does the DPW dump snow at the site, but contractors for Samaritan Medical Center, local banks and other businesses with parking lots also take snow to the site, he said.

Rodman Town Highway officials were not proud of becoming the king of snow this week; the official tally from the National Weather Service had 5 feet of snow falling on the town.

They’ve been working hard to remove snow from town roads before the rain begins, Highway Superintendent Dale T. Tamblin said. They want to get as much snow pushed aside from roads as possible, so “it doesn’t lay in the roadway” and then turn to ice when temperatures become more seasonable, he said.

So far, Mr. Hayes has been happy with Watertown’s snow removal operation, noting no one has complained about the job his department has done, he said.

“Of course, they can start now that the snow is over,” he said.

And his department still must deal with the tons of tree limbs, branches and other debris from the Dec. 21 ice storm, he said.

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