PLATTSBURGH — It is the kind of cold that hurts, if you are outside for long.
It elicits pity for mail and newspaper carriers, utility workers and anybody else who makes a living out in the elements.
Snow and bone-chilling temperatures greeted New Yorkers on the first work day of 2014, making for a dicey morning commute Thursday across the upstate region and adding an extra day to the Christmas break for thousands of students around New York, the Associated Press reported.
A coastal storm was predicted to arrive Thursday evening and drop at least 6 inches of snow across much of the state.
The National Weather Service said some areas from Buffalo to Albany could get a total of up to 14 inches by the time the storm moves out this morning.
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.
On Thursday, Cuomo declared an official state of emergency for New York. That designation “mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and allows the governor to suspend laws and regulations that would impede rapid response,” according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.
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 was expected to make it feel like minus-30 in some parts of the Adirondacks, the Weather Service said.
“Everybody’s slowed down for the conditions,” State Police Sgt. David Malone of the Thruway detail in Albany said Thursday. “Hopefully, it stays this way for the rest of the day.”
It didn’t. By early afternoon, State Police in our area were called to a one-car rollover on Gen. Leroy Manor Road, a two-car accident at the corner of the Military Turnpike and Route 11, a car that had gone over a guardrail on the Northway and a property-damage accident on Route 22 in Peru. That was all within about half an hour.
By evening, dispatchers in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties had all had reports of cars sliding off the road, but, fortunately, few injuries.
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 this morning.
North Country schools are closed this week for winter break, so class cancellations weren’t a factor here. But many other schools around the state had planned to resume classes on Thursday but couldn’t, the Associated Press reported.
As this latest round of winter weather hits the Northeast, the American Red Cross is urging residents to follow Red Cross safety tips to stay safe.
“The most important thing people can do right now is stay informed,” Tim Bachman, emergency-services director for the organization, said in a news release. “If someone finds themselves in a dangerous situation, they need to evaluate their options before taking action. If it’s a true emergency, always call 911.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that people assemble an emergency-preparedness kit.
Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing.
Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery.
Additionally, make sure you have a first-aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.
The Red Cross further recommends that people:
▶ Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snowstorms and blizzards from the National Weather Service.
▶ Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing.
▶ Vent all fuel-burning equipment to the outside and keep it clear.
▶ Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
▶ Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
▶ Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
▶ Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
▶ Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster-supplies kit in your vehicle.
The Red Cross urges people to stay indoors, if possible, during frigid conditions.
The agency has this advice for people during cold-weather spells like this:
▶ Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
▶ Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers.
▶ Help people who require special assistance, such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
▶ If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away — things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
▶ Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.
PETS AND THE COLD
Bring your pets inside during cold winter weather, the Red Cross advises, and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure they have access to non-frozen drinking water.
If your pets can’t come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough to allow them to sit and lie down but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat. Raise the floor a few inches from the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Salt and other substances used to melt snow and ice can irritate your pet’s paws and mouth. Wipe your pet’s paws with a damp towel when they come inside.
— Contributing Writer Bob Grady added to this report.