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Season’s first snow sends vehicles sliding

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Jim Burk attaches a wing to a plow Wednesday at the Cortland County Highway Department as crews prepared for snow plowing. The work was timely as 1 inch of snow fell early today in the city.

Highway crews were salting streets this morning and dozens of accidents occurred as the season’s first snowfall slickened roads.
About one-10th of an inch of snow fell Wednesday morning, and National Weather Service of Binghamton meteorologist Mark Pellerito said there was about an inch of snow in higher levels of Cortland this morning, while lower levels received a bit less. This is to be followed by freezing rain throughout the day.

Philip Krey, superintendent of the Cortland County Highway Department said this morning there were nine trucks out salting the roads. And Christopher Bistocchi, superintendent of the city’s Department of Public Works, said Wednesday evening that three trucks were ready to salt and plow the city’s roads in the morning.

The county’s salt barn is full of salt — more so than usual given the limited snowfall last season — but Jim Morse, deputy superintendent of the Cortland County Highway Department, said the county would not continue salting the roads until there is a real demand for it. That means crews would not go out to salt the roads in preparation for a potential snowfall.

“We always try to be ready,” Morse said. “If the weather was calling for a foot of snow, we would be scurrying around more.”

Trucks are continuously being prepared with Fiberglas bodies being installed, plow frames put on with plows attached and lights being installed.

Bistocchi said city Public Works crews will be out salting the roads in advance of anything that causes the roads to be
slippery.

“I hope everyone remembers to drive slow,” he said about days with slippery conditions. “People are still in summer driving mode and need to be aware of the changing conditions.”

Between 5:30 and 9:30 this morning, there were 33 accidents reported across Cortland County, according to Scott Roman, the Cortland County director of emergency response and communication. None were major or involved injuries, he said, just many accidents and cars sliding into ditches.

He said most accidents were occurring on the interstate and in higher elevations around the county, due to the slippery roadways and people not prepared to drive in the winter conditions.

On average, Bistocchi said there are usually one or two snowfalls before Thanksgiving, requiring the department to go out and plow. After then, “it is anyone’s guess what this winter will do.” How much salt needs to be put down all depends on how many snow events there are throughout the year.

Pellerito said he does not expect any significant snowfall in the near future. If anything, just limited periods of snow flurries.

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