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Hudson Valley Sees Substantial Snowfall, Clearing Out Could Take A Few Days

Feb. 1, 2021 snowstorm, Clarkstown, Rockland County, NY
Courtesy of the Town of Clarkstown
Feb. 1, 2021 snowstorm, Clarkstown, Rockland County, NY

Much of the WAMC listening area spent today digging out from Monday’s massive snowstorm. The Hudson Valley was among the areas with the greatest snowfall, and municipalities will be cleaning up for at least a few days.

Stephen DiRienzo is a National Weather Service meteorologist out of Albany.

“Well, the eastern Catskills had some big numbers; up in the mountains we saw some totals close to 2 feet,” DiRienzo says. “Also the Mid-Hudson Valley, again, probably in the 18-24-inch range there as well, and then over into the Litchfield Hills where up to 18 inches was reported.”

He says the eastern Catskill Mountains had some two feet as of mid-morning, and could add another 4-to-6 inches by tonight, taking them to the around 30-inch-mark. The Albany National Weather Service office covers as far south as portions of Dutchess County, and DiRienzo says Fishkill reported 25.6 inches and the same for Saugerties, in Ulster County. In the Berkshires, Stockbridge came in with 11.5 inches, with more than 17 in the higher terrain. And this is before another few inches could accumulate by day’s end. In Rockland County, George Hoehmann is Clarkstown Town Supervisor.

“Clarkstown was hit with, it looks like, about 24-to-25 inches of snow. The roads are in remarkably good shape. I mean, our Highway Department’s been working round the clock, 16-hour shifts with four-hour sleep breaks. And the roads this morning were passable. Our Highway Department is clearing sidewalks, bus shelters, our commuter lots, and doing curb-to-curb cleanup on our roads,” Hoehmann says. “Over the next couple of days, we’re probably going to have to do some additional work to remove some of the really high snow drifts that are in some of our downtown areas.”

A lot of people not only heeded warnings to stay off the roads, but many were already home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoehmann says commuter lots were emptier with people working from home, and easier to clear.

“It was a surprise that for a storm of this magnitude.. We had about dozen car accidents, all minor, a couple of jackknifed tractor-trailers yesterday, early on in the day,” says Hoehmann. “Nothing significant. We did have a few minor power outages.”

That was generally the case throughout the Hudson Valley – few power outages. Orange and Rockland Utilities spokesman Mike Donovan says there were just a handful of scattered outages.

“The system held up very well, and one of the reasons is the storm hardening program where we do this spot undergrounding of circuits in strategic locations,” Donovan says. “We do a lot of tree trimming.”

He says the handful of outages were restored almost immediately.

“The beauty of how we were set up yesterday is we had, we had triple the amount of field, overhead-line technicians in the field yesterday because we brought in a lot of mutual aid, from Minnesota and from Alabama, and we had a lot of people in,” says Donovan.

There was a storm-related fatal accident in Orange County. New York State Police say a Goshen man died Monday evening after the snowmobile he was riding broke through the ice and became submerged in water. Police say 56-year-old Arne Jensen was riding with 55-year-old Richard Stetson on the Goshen Reservoir when they broke through the ice. Stetson was able to get out of the water and call for help. Jensen was retrieved from the water and taken by ambulance to Garnet Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The investigation continues.

Marc Nelson is Poughkeepsie city administrator.

“It was a long night. Our crews have been out working around the clock. I just drove around the entire city, not seeing any trouble spots that we’re not already aware of. The phones haven’t rung in over two or three hours, so I think the public has been just fantastic,” Nelson says. “The compliance with the mayor’s emergency snow order was, just like last time, it was just phenomenal. People actually got their cars moved. Our plows have had a much easier time. That’s always the hardest part is going around cars in the middle of the night that didn’t move. So our hats off to everybody. We really want to thank the community for pulling together. We’ve got about another 24 hours of cleanup, a lot of shoveling, some bus stops we’ve got to work on.”

He urged residents to shovel out any fire hydrants near their property so they are visible to first responders.

“We did suspend sanitation pickup for a couple of days, so the minute we get the snow out of the way, we’re back to picking up garbage. So no rest for the weary,” says Nelson. “But our hats off to everybody. We really do appreciate the work that city employees have done, public safety and particularly our plow operators.”

Again, Clarkstown’s Hoehmann:

“We’re early in the year in terms of our budget cycle. So we put in a healthy amount in for snow removal, but a storm like this literally will, will take a chunk. This is like three storms in terms of the impact,” says Hoehmann. “I mean, just the salt that we put down there to deal with the ice, we’ve got about, 2,000 tons that we put down for the storm so far. That’s a significant amount of salt, so it’ll definitely eat into our budget but, so far so good, but if we have another storm of this magnitude, it’ll absolutely strain our budget.”

Beth Clarke is sales executive & marketing coordinator for Wappingers-Falls headquartered Bottini Fuel, which has some 40,000 customers and services 10 counties, mainly in the Hudson Valley, as well as parts of Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She says it’s been busy.

“So many people are calling us from other companies, that their companies just can’t do it,” Clarke says. “So we’re taking care of our own and taking care of those in the community who need fuel as well.”

Metro-North, which had suspended service at 3 Monday afternoon, was back on track early this morning.

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