Winter storm hits Chenango hard; one fatality

NORWICH – Chenango County woke up to between six and ten inches of snow this morning during the first major winter storm of the season. Municipal highway departments were swamped through the night, clearing roads while hundreds of residents shoveled their way out from their driveways early this morning.

Across the county, several minor incidents were reported as the storm rolled in yesterday, including a small motor vehicle accident shortly after 5:30 p.m. on State Highway 12, near Burger King just south of Norwich city limits. A head-on collision occurred this morning around 7:30 on State Highway 12B between Sherburne and Earlville, with only minor injuries reported.

There was a fatal one-car rollover shortly after 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of CR-32 (East River Road) and CR-33 (Polkville Hill) in the Town of Norwich. The driver, Casey R. Decker, 31, Norwich, was killed in the crash. The incident shut down traffic for several hours between CR-32 and Halfway House Road while emergency crews worked on the scene. No further details were available as of press time.



Snow quickly piled up beginning late yesterday, with quickest accumulations amounting to two to three inches per hour. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, snow accumulations of more than six inches were already reported in Oxford, according to the National Weather Service. Three and a half inches were reported in Sherburne and three inches in Earlville; but snow drifts and slippery roads made travel incredibly dangerous.

The County Highway Department crew was out in full force when snow started flying last night and crews continued working until 10 p.m. Director of Public Works Shawn Fry said windy conditions have made it difficult to clear roads and keep them clear, but light traffic due to schools already closed for the holidays, and many local employees on holiday vacation offers some relief by making the job just a little easier. Crews were out clearing roads again at 3 a.m., although snow drifts continue to be an issue in many regions of the county, Fry said. “We’re doing all we can,” he added. “We’ll continue to go as long as we need to today .... Wind makes it a habitual problem in areas but we’re dealing with it as we go.”

“A lot of people took heed to the warnings and a lot of people did what they needed to do to stay home,” said Matthew Beckwith, director of the Chenango County Emergency Management Office. “There was hardly anybody on to the roads last night ... there were no power outages and there were a couple trees down. Things were a little busier this morning, but the Department of Transportation and the County Highway have been out all morning. By the looks of it, things will taper off later today.”

Beckwith also noted that drivers should slow down in dangerous road conditions, allow extra time for travel and be courteous of other drivers and road crews.

An update from the National Weather Service of Binghamton calls for a winter storm warning to remain in effect until 1 p.m. this afternoon for Chenango, Otsego, Broome and Delaware counties. Light to moderate snow is expected through the early afternoon hours with total accumulations of snow and sleet as high as 10 inches in some regions, especially at higher elevations. Snow and sleet is expected to taper off to light snow showers later today.

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