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Holiday travelers beware: Heavy snow, rain/sleet expected Tuesday night through Thursday morning

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A “hazardous” winter storm is moving through the north country and the National Weather Service is strongly advising holiday travelers to be prepared if they absolutely must drive today.

Forecasters expected 3 to 5 inches of snow overnight, turning into rain this morning before it reverts to snow. Six to 10 inches of wet and heavy snowfall is predicted in Jefferson and Lewis counties this afternoon through Thursday morning.

Meteorologist James A. Mitchell with the National Weather Service said those driving southeast — to New York City or Boston, for example — should head out early today while it’s still raining.

Wind gusts up to 30 mph and a rapid movement of cold air into the region this afternoon will lead to sleet and freezing rain in some areas, especially southeastern Jefferson County and western Lewis County.

Up to 17 inches of snow is expected to accumulate in the northern Tug Hill region during the storm’s duration.

“This storm is not lake effect,” Mr. Mitchell said, adding that the snow will accumulate over a long duration over a large area.

People heading west to Buffalo or Rochester, however, are not going to be able to avoid snow no matter what time they leave.

Mr. Mitchell said travelers should keep in their cars an emergency preparation kit, blankets, water and nonperishable food and a full tank of gas in anticipation of being stranded for hours, as these types of winter storms typically lead to numerous traffic accidents and road closures.

Emergency responders were called to the scenes of multiple vehicle crashes on Tuesday afternoon and evening as snow started to fall.

At Watertown International Airport, near Dexter, airport manager Grant W. Sussey said Tuesday afternoon that his crews prepared for snowfall during the past few days.

“We’ll be prepared as we can,” he said. In addition to the clearing of snow, Mr. Sussey said his staff will also be tasked with inspecting the runway surfaces to ensure the safety of flights.

As of Tuesday evening no flights had been rescheduled in connection to the inclement weather.

National Grid said in a news release Tuesday that it had brought on several additional crews in case of a need to restore power to areas affected by the inclement weather.

The utility said residents who lose power should call its outage line at 1-800-867-5222.

Times Staff Writer Gordon Block contributed to this report.

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