ALBANY - Snow and bone-chilling temperatures greeted New Yorkers on the first work day of 2014, making for a dicey morning commute today across the upstate region and adding an extra day to the Christmas break for thousands of students.
A coastal storm was predicted to arrive this evening and drop at least 6 inches of snow across much of the state.
Snowfall totals early this afternoon ranged from 6 inches in Schoharie County west of Albany to 13 inches in the Rochester area. The National Weather Service said some areas from Buffalo to Albany could get a total of up to 14 inches by the time the coastal storm moved out Friday morning. The incoming storm was expected to drop 6 to 8 inches of snow on New York City and produce blizzard conditions to Long Island, where up to 10 inches was forecast.
During a New Year's Day conference call with reporters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state resources will be stretched thin and highway crews may not be able to keep up with the wind-driven snow. He urged downstate commuters to use mass transit if possible in case of highway closings.
The snow was coinciding with a blast of cold air.
Forecasters said today's high temperatures weren't likely to hit double digits in many areas, while the highs across the North Country would remain below zero. The addition of wind will make it feel like minus-30 in some parts of the Adirondacks tonight and Friday morning, the weather service said.
Crashes were reported on some upstate roads, but none of them appeared serious.
"Everybody's slowed down for the conditions," said state police Sgt. David Malone of the Thruway detail in Albany. "Hopefully it stays this way for the rest of the day."
The snow came courtesy of a winter double whammy hitting New York from the east and west, prompting the weather service to issue winter storm warnings and wind chill advisories for most of the state into Friday morning.
Some schools in New York City's northern suburbs were closing early today, while scores of others in the Hudson Valley and other parts of eastern New York called off classes or delayed their start by a couple hours. Some upstate districts are off through Friday for the Christmas break, but many others had planned to resume classes today.