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Winter storm Vulcan dumps snow across north country

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Winter storm Vulcan struck the north country hard Wednesday, leaving more than a foot of snow and treacherous whiteout conditions.

Route 3 from Watertown south to the Oswego County line was closed Wednesday because of worsening conditions and flooding. The state Department of Transportation urged travelers to exercise caution as snow fell with “significant accumulation expected.”

The DOT reported that heavy snowfall “severely” affected travel along routes 12, 26, 177 and 812 in Lewis County.

Dozens of north country schools canceled classes Wednesday or decided to send students home early as the latest snowstorm raged on. Several town court sessions were postponed, and numerous organizations canceled activities Wednesday evening.

While the storm made its presence known in the north country, it pounded even harder in places to the south, such as Syracuse. Parts of Interstate 81 south of Syracuse were shut down for periods Wednesday because of numerous motor vehicle accidents and poor conditions.

According to Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, many flights were delayed and canceled. The daily 5:35 p.m. flight departing from Watertown International Airport to Chicago also was canceled, according to Flightstats.com.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Oswego County and many counties in the western New York, where the National Weather Service also had issued a blizzard warning, meaning that the significant snowfall was paired with steady winds of 35 mph or more and near-zero visibility.

In addition to the snow, which was falling at a rate of an inch per hour in some areas, strong north winds with gusts up to 40 mph made driving “extremely difficult or even nearly impossible” at times, according to the National Weather Service.

Scattered power outages were reported in the north country. As of 8 p.m., about 40 National Grid customers were without power in Macomb in St. Lawrence County. Statewide, more than 4,000 power outages were reported, primarily in the Syracuse area and the capital region.

A winter storm warning remained in effect for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence until 8 a.m. today.

Lewis County was expected to get an additional 6 to 9 inches by this morning, bringing the storm total to 15 to 20 inches. A wind chill warning also was in effect for Lewis County, as wind chill values were expected to be as low as minus 20 Wednesday night and this morning.

Forecasters expected Jefferson County to get an additional 4 to 7 inches Wednesday night, raising the snowfall total to 12 to 20 inches by this morning. St. Lawrence County was forecast to see the least snow, with a projected total of up to a foot, the Weather Service said.

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