WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — This will surely be an unforgettable holiday weekend. What experts have labeled the “storm of the century” hit the eastern portion of New York State on Friday, December 23.
What first started as rain, rapidly changed to ice and snow. This mixed with wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, resulted in blizzard-like conditions across the region.
This severe weather left many travelers scrambling to get to and from the North Country for the holidays. But the day before the storm hit, the Watertown airport was bustling with family, friends and visitors.
Peter Van Denakker, a soldier stationed at Fort Drum, prepared to fly home to Arizona. A trip he had not made in seven months after completing basic training and moving to Jefferson County.
“I’m very excited to get out of here,” he said. “It’s my first time home in 7 months. It’s actually something a lot of my buddies didn’t have the opportunity to do, Some of them were getting deployed right away. So I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to take this time with my family.”
Instead of joy, some travelers were nervous as they have flights scheduled during the predicted storm. Garrett Zopfi flew in from Delaware to visit friends for a quick trip and said he is supposed to fly home Christmas Eve.
“I’m supposed to fly out on Saturday,” he shared. “So with all the weather advisories, I’m hoping it’s all cleared up by then so I can get back to my family for Christmas.
Jefferson County is under a blizzard warning through Sunday, December 25. Officials have warned that the forecasted heavy and high winds will make road conditions dangerous and sometimes impassible.
Road crews in the area hoped for the best but prepared for the worst.
“It looks like we’re going to get an abundance of rain, snow, sleet and especially wind,” Jefferson County Highway Superintendent Jim Lawrence said. “Which is probably the worst-case scenario we could probably have. When that happens we want to be right there on top of it.”
Lawrence explained that the community needs to be patient during the storm as plow crews race plummeting temperatures and snow accumulations.
“We can’t be on every minute of every section of road,” he said. “And cycle times of plows are every two hours. So if you don’t have to be on the roads, you can delay the Christmas season for another week, or half a week, we really appreciate that. Especially as the weather deteriorates.”
No unnecessary travel advisories and travel bans have been issued throughout the North Country for the duration of the holiday weekend.