Snowfall, deep freeze still grips much of country
Jan. 13, 1997
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Bill Otposhavett moved from Connecticut to upstate New York eight years ago because he loves snow. He's in seventh heaven now.
``It's one of the bigger ones I've ever seen up here,'' Otposhavett said Sunday from his home in Montague, east of Lake Ontario, where 7 1/2 feet of snow fell over the weekend.
``It's been quite a wild winter so far,'' he said.
In the high country of northern Arizona, a foot of snow had fallen this morning at Flagstaff and drifts were up to 4 feet high. Slippery roads closed schools from northern Arizona as far east as northwestern Alabama, and ice even closed major highways in Louisiana.
On the back side of that storm, snow briefly closed a small segment of Interstate 15 this morning in the mountains east of Los Angeles.
During the weekend, 2 feet of snow and a threat of avalanches in Utah stranded thousands of skiers at two mountain resorts. And 8 inches of snow at Reno, Nev., on Sunday canceled airline flights and interfered with flood cleanup.
But it was the eastern Great Lakes that got dumped on.
Four feet of snow piled up in just 24 hours outside June Ouderkirk's house in the tiny upstate town of Redfield, about 20 miles from Montague. Both towns normally get heavy snow from moisture blowing off Lake Ontario.
``When I answered the phone, I was standing on a stool trying to look out my dining room window,'' Ouderkirk said in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon. ``There's snow 10 inches from the top. ... All I can see is the snowmobiles going by, about 15 at a pop.''
Helen Anken, 54, said her Sunday morning church service was canceled ``because most of us couldn't get out.''
``I think I've got the Matterhorn and Mount Blanc out there,'' Anken said of the mounds of snow outside her house in Redfield, about 40 miles northeast of Syracuse.
Buffalo, on the shore of Lake Erie, got off easy with 20 inches.
In Montague, roads were closed and even the plows were staying off the street. This latest storm brought this season's total to 250 inches _ just 50 inches below the average total for a whole season. The snow had largely tapered off this morning, but some areas could expect snow showers today.
Elsewhere, sleet and freezing rain spread eastward today from New Mexico through Texas into Louisiana, where ice closed Interstate 10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge this morning.
Erica Johnson, a hotel clerk in Bossier City, La., was frustrated this morning because she couldn't drive I-10 home to Shreveport.
``There is no other way to Shreveport. This is ridiculous,'' she said.
Ice also spread across much of Texas, knocking out electricity to 180,000 customers in the Houston area this morning.
``That's about 10 percent of our customers, and that's a huge number for us,'' said Houston Lighting & Power co. spokesman Graham Painter.
American Airlines canceled more than 100 flights early today at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, said airport spokeswoman Angel Biasatti.
In Utah, 2 feet of snow and 60 mph wind struck on Saturday, causing small avalanches and preventing about 4,000 skiers from leaving the Alta and Snowbird resort areas.
Most people who wanted the resorts finally got out late Sunday afternoon.
Two feet had fallen by this morning at Durango in southwestern Colorado, closing all major passes in the area, and an additional 3 feet was possible in the region's San Juan Mountains.
Farther north, the wind chill hit 62 below zero this morning at Spencer, Idaho. And record lows for today's date included 36 below zero at Havre, Mont.; 34 below at Butte, Mont.; and 27 below at Sheridan, Wyo.