December 5, 2021

Winter whiplash: Temps fall from 60° to -9° in 9 hours

Extreme weather

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Water flows off of a hillside and freezes Saturday on Health Camp Road in Homer.

Luke Stevens of Cortland does not mind the snow at all. He shovels sidewalks for a job, but he worries that some people might get sick from the cold as temperatures dropped nearly 70 degrees in a day and a half.

“16-year-olds might go out without coats,” Stevens said Saturday as he shoveled a sidewalk on Pomeroy Street in Cortland.

Winter, being fickle, stomped back into Central New York on Saturday. Just 24 hours earlier, the temperature had reached a record-high 60 degrees and earlier last week, wind chills dropped to nearly minus 30.

By Saturday, the temperature had started at 29 and dropped to a low of 4, only to keep dropping to minus 9 by Sunday morning, flirting with the record of minus 12.

Stevens knew the winter weather was coming, as he had to be on duty for a part-time job at Village Terrace apartments in Cortlandville. He already had to plow out the parking lots with a tractor for five hours Saturday morning. He had lots of hot chocolate to keep warm.

“You kind of expect it nowadays,” Stevens said. “Having a few nice warm days then a cold snap comes through.”

The winter storm warning the National Weather Service in Binghamton issued lasted until 4 p.m. Saturday, with up to 7 inches of snow expected on top of nearly a quarter-inch of ice.

That accompanied a flood watch from all of Friday’s meltage.

The Tiougnioga River at Cortland crested about 10 a.m. Saturday at 8 feet, its flood stage.

The Otselic River at Cincinnatus crested Friday night at 6.6 feet, 1.4 feet below flood stage.

State police Sgt. Kelly Daly said her agency responded throughout the day to storm-related accidents.

“There have been several accidents, but they’re nothing serious,” Daly said on Saturday. “Troopers are mostly responding to cars off the road.”

Sports events and extracurricular activities, including an all-county choir concert Friday night and Saturday were postponed or canceled in Cortland, Homer, Dryden, Groton and Marathon school districts.

The National Weather Service noted that the very rapid decrease in temperatures can cause flash freezing on wet roadways and sidewalks.

Ben Bennett of Cortland was shoveling snow off the sidewalks of Tompkins Street, which he likes doing to get his blood going. Like Stevens, he said strange weather is becoming the new normal.

“I don’t know what normal is anymore,” Bennett said.