School closings, airline delays, and slow traffic on tap today

Teall A ve. Syracuse 3:45 am / Lou Gulino/CNYcentral

Welcome to Groundhog Day in Central New York and across the country. This winter storm, which has marched across most of the U.S., is closing schools, making for a treacherous commute and disrupting the nation's airlines.

Here's what we know so far: Before we even got on the air this morning on at 5:00 a.m. we had more than 50 cancelations and delays called into the CNY Central newsroom. By 9:15 a.m. that list had ballooned to more than 240 and is still growing.

On the roads, the Thruway has banned trandem tractor-trailer trucks on the entire length of the toll road. Also, the State DOT says that Interstate 690 eastbound at the Interstate 81 southbound interchange is reduced to one lane due to a multi-vehicle accident. The crash happend around 9:30 a.m. and cleanup is expected to last around two hours.

Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to activate the state's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and open the State Emergency Operations Center to ensure resources and equipment are positioned for an appropriate response to the forecasted storm. The governor's office says the State DOT has some 193 snow plows and salt spreaders ready to go to handle state highways in the area.

Before you head out today you might want to check the some traffic cameras on the highways you plan to travel to see what conditions are like. If you go to the NYS DOT site you can look at cameras on I-81, I-690, I-481 and the Thruway for anywhere in the state.

The key for this morning is to allow plenty of extra time for your trip, and to go slow.

If you are planning to fly, good luck. The Associated Press reports with ice on the runways in Dallas and a blizzard expected in Chicago, U.S. airlines are canceling thousands of flights and erasing much of their service in the middle of the country.

Flight tracking service FlightAware has logged almost 6,000 cancellations for the day. More are expected on Wednesday.

Ice shut down Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for two hours on Tuesday morning. One runway later re-opened. But American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith says the airline is hardly operating at Dallas because high winds make it unsafe for de-icing employees to work in the bucket trucks.

Chicago O'Hare was seeing delays of more than two hours. A United Airlines spokeswoman says about 300 departures will be canceled in Chicago starting in the afternoon, when the snow is expected to pick up.

Here's a link to the FAA's web site for info on general delays out of Hancock International Airport in Syracuse.

If you have some great snow pictures send them to us at

More on this story from the Associated Press:

Upstate New York got hit Tuesday with another round of severe weather that snarled the morning commute for thousands of motorists and closed dozens of school in eastern areas, with even worse conditions expected over the next day.

The National Weather Service said 4 inches had fallen in western New York by early Tuesday afternoon, while 3 to 7 inches was reported in eastern counties where many schools canceled classes or delayed their start by two hours. Some schools opened, only to later announce they were closing early.

State police said a tractor-trailer jackknifed on the Thruway south of Albany, blocking Interstate 87's southbound lanes for about an hour. Numerous other accidents occurred on icy upstate roads and highways, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

Later Tuesday, the New York State Thruway Authority banned all tandem trucks, regardless of size, from the entire 641-mile highway in either direction beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The weather service said 1 to 2 feet of snow is predicted across the upstate region by the time the storm ends on Thursday, with the heaviest snowfall expected to come Wednesday. Forecasters said some parts of western New York will get winds of 25 to 35 mph Tuesday night and Wednesday, when an additional 8 inches of snow is expected to fall on the Buffalo area.

Eastern parts of New York could get 3 to 6 inches Tuesday before a lull and an even heavier dose starting after midnight.

"The next 24 to 48 hours are going to be kind of tricky around here," said Vasil Koleci, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany.

"The heaviest burst is right around sunrise tomorrow morning," he said. "Tomorrow's commute is going to be absolutely awful."

It wasn't exactly a breeze Tuesday morning in the Albany area, where snow and slick conditions brought traffic to a crawl on many roads and highways. A trooper with the state police Thruway detail in Albany said he was too busy to give his name or specifics about the morning's many crashes, other than to say that many drivers needed to slow down to avoid ending up in snow banks.

Albany International Airport was open and operating, but officials said a total of 72 arriving and departing flights had been canceled as of late Tuesday morning.

Eight inches to 14 inches of snow could blanket much of western New York on Wednesday, said David Zaff, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Buffalo.

"Typically, western New York is used to these types of events in terms of snow amounts that's just very widespread," Zaff said. "It'll make matters difficult getting around. It's not going to be a pretty day tomorrow."

The heaviest snow will probably fall along the Lake Ontario shore between Buffalo and Syracuse.

"We're not looking for heavy, wet snow," Zaff said. "It's going to be more of a sandy, granular snow - it's not going to really stick to much, and it'll blow around quite a bit."