A late-season storm expected to dump as much as a foot of snow across the hills and mountains of northern New York and New England was a boon for skiers and ski resorts in a region largely spared by the massive storms that blasted the rest of the nation this winter.
Snow had begun to fall Tuesday across the Adirondacks and the St. Lawrence and Champlain valleys. Higher altitudes were expected to see the most accumulation, with a foot or more by midday Wednesday at ski resorts and other spots above 2,000 feet.
Snowstorms in late April are "fairly unusual" but do happen, said Andy Nash, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "We've had snow as late as May 12 in the valley and into late May in the higher elevations," he said.
Snowfall was expected to range from slushy accumulations in the valley floors, through 5 or 6 inches at 500 feet and more at higher elevations, levels that would be modest for a typical winter storm.
"It's been pretty much a below-normal snowfall season in northern New York and northern New England," Nash said. "Everyone was saying, 'Where was winter?'"
Motorists were warned to use caution, but the storm wasn't expected to disrupt travel too much. That would be good news for Francis Strack, who runs a plow service in Lake Placid, N.Y., and had already stored his equipment for the season.
"My plow, my tires and my sander had all been taken off and put away. But my wife told me about the forecast Monday morning, and I thought she was crazy," he said. "We've lived here long enough. You think we would know better."
Residents seemed resigned to the offseason storm after largely escaping a winter that smashed snowfall records across much of the Northeast.
"It's been a nice mild spring, but this is a reality check. I got home from school yesterday — it was 68 degrees. I was in shorts watching games," said John Button, athletic director at Tupper Lake High School. "Now I'm looking for sweaters. It's spring in the Adirondacks."
At the Noon Mark Diner, a family-run landmark favored by skiers, hikers, bikers and climbers in the mountain town of Keene Valley, N.Y., Violet Terry was taking the storm in stride.
"People have been talking about the weather here this morning, and they're all disgusted with the snow. Everyone has been ready for spring," Terry said. "But it doesn't seem to be stopping people. We had six hikers in here this morning getting their sandwiches."
Skiers welcomed the fresh snow ahead of season's end Sunday at the Sugarloaf ski area in Maine, which still has two ski lifts operating and 24 trails open. The resort is offering a ski-and-tee special this weekend where people can ski and play 9 holes of golf on the same day for a special rate, said Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin.
And the Jay Peak ski resort in northern Vermont was scheduled to be operating this weekend but decided to open Thursday to take advantage of the storm.
The rest of Vermont's ski areas have closed, said Jen Butson of the Vermont Ski Areas Association. She said she wished the storm would have come three weeks earlier, when more Vermont ski resorts were still open.
Several inches of snow fell overnight Monday in far northern Maine, with St. Francis recording 4 inches Tuesday morning.
The heaviest snows were predicted for the higher elevations of Maine's western mountains, where 6 to 10 inches — and possibly more than a foot in localized areas — was expected through Wednesday, said Weather Service meteorologist Jim Mansfield.
The storm is expected to move slowly east and then northeast out to sea.