Just the beginning: Up to 2 feet of snow expected

A Johnstown Department of Public Works truck plows North Perry Street in Johnstown this morning. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

It snowed so hard today, the U.S. Postal Service couldn’t deliver the mail.

A late winter storm, dubbed “Winter Storm Stella” by the National Weather Service, slammed into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states today, impacting more than 70 million residents and causing cancellations across the affected area.

Albany-based National Weather Service forecaster Steve DiRienzo said this morning that the storm would probably dump 21 to 24 inches of snow on Fulton and Montgomery counties by the time it was over early Wednesday morning.

“I think the worst of it will be over by midnight through the Mohawk Valley and the surrounding area,” DiRienzo said.

The forecaster said a “strong” nor’easter started in Virginia, but was slowly moving up the East Coast, edging along Long Island and dumping extremely large amounts of snow throughout the Northeast. He said the heavy snow would give way to lighter blowing and drifting snow on Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency today for all of New York state’s 62 counties.

The conditions — and expectations — are so severe that the U.S. Postal Service canceled mail delivery in the “12” zip code areas across the Capital Region, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Manon said today.

“It has been a long time since we’ve seen this kind of closure,” Manon said.

She said the Gloversville and Johnstown postal delivery was shut down, as well as Albany (122) and Schenectady (123).

“Those are all closed,” said Manon.

She said she doesn’t remember the last time post offices and mail delivery had to be closed in the more than 30 years she has worked for the postal service.

UPS also shut down deliveries today, an unheard of occurrence.

According to an email sent by Gloversville Police Capt. Michael Scott, Gloversville City Hall will be closed today due to the weather.

The Common Council meeting that was scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight also has been canceled.

The Gloversville transit system was also shut down for the day, according to a post on the system’s Facebook page.

“We tried to get out this morning, but with the state of emergency and roads getting slick fast, we called the buses back in and have erred on the side of caution,” the report states. “[We] are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King told city residents through a statement on his Facebook page to remove recycling containers from curbside to avoid having them blown away by the wind or damaged by plow trucks. King said the Fulton County recycling program has shut down for the day, but the city is still picking up garbage.

Johnstown City Hall was also closed.

Amsterdam City Hall will be closing at noon today. The city’s bus system has also shut down for the day.

A snow emergency has been declared for the city starting at noon today. The snow emergency requires all parked motor vehicles be removed from city streets by noon. Vehicles must not park on city streets until the snow emergency is lifted.

A list of city-owned parking lots will be up on the Amsterdam Police Department Facebook page.

The village of Fonda has declared a snow emergency running through Friday at 6 a.m. No parking will be allowed on village streets during this time. The village is asking residents to refrain from any unnecessary travel during the snowy periods.

“If conditions change that require this order to be altered, we will notify residents through our website, news media and social network,” the release states.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead — in consultation with Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Kinowski — said the county government was shutting down all offices this morning.

“We had a skeleton crew anyway,” Stead said. “This is affecting county government pretty seriously.”

Schools shut down

All schools were closed today for the biggest winter storm of the season, most making the decision early on Monday night.

Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent Michael Vanyo said during the board of education meeting Monday that the district will still hold a planned conference day on Wednesday.

Vanyo said the district has a contingency plan in place for its snow days.

He said today’s snow day will only have an effect on middle school students. He said the high school and elementary schools will both be okay on school days. He said the middle school, however, will need to come in on one of the Regents week days.

Besides Gloversville, students in the Greater Johnstown School District and Northville Central School District will still go on as planned with their Wednesday conferences. This means students will have both today and tomorrow off.

The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District has decided to cancel its planned conference day on Wednesday. According to a news release from FFCS Superintendent Thomas Ciaccio, the district has had four snow days and two delays so far this year. Due to this, the district had to cancel the superintendent’s conference day.

The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District will be holding regular instructional days on Wednesday as well.

Two half days that were scheduled for the Fort Plain Central School District on Friday and May 16 will now be full days, due to the use of four snow days this winter.

According to a message from Superintendent Thomas Sincavage, Wells Central School District has depleted snow days for the year prior to today. Since the district is closed for today’s snowfall, students and staff will have a full day of school on Friday, a day initially scheduled for a superintendent’s conference day.

Businesses shut down

In addition to municipal offices being closed, many businesses in the area, large and small, decided to close.

The Walmart Regional Distribution Center and Fage USA in Johnstown were open this morning, but smaller businesses such as the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market and First Choice Financial Federal Credit Union were closed.

“We’re open currently on a volunteer-only basis,” David Karpinski, president of Taylor Made Products in Gloversville, said this morning. “We’re giving employees the option.”

Karpinski said his company, which employees about 175 on Harrison Street, was going through a “managed shutdown” today.

Price Chopper was still open as of press time. Customers like Ken Mowrey, of Johnstown, seeking essential food staples braved the snowfall.

“I needed the milk, baby formula, food for my dogs,” Mowrey said. “I was afraid I’d get stuck inside, and I figured I needed extra baby formula.”

Wendell Allen, a resident of Meco, said he’s used to tough winter snow storms, just not usually in March. He stocked up on batteries.

Road impact

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino this morning said the county roads were starting to get bad cautioning drivers to “stay off the roads.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” the sheriff said.

He also warned snowmobilers to stay off the lakes.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reported no major accidents, and the county’s Deputy Emergency Management Director Rick Sager credited the early warning from the governor’s office, the National Weather Service and the news media for lack of accidents caused by the snow.

By Chad Fleck

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