ALBANY - It finally started to look like winter today in sections of upstate New York where residents haven't had much reason to complain about the weather this season.
A storm dumped up to 8 inches in the southern Adirondacks, while parts of the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys got 4 to 6 inches today, forcing scores of schools to cancel classes or delay their start by two hours and greeting morning commuters with snow-covered vehicles for one of the few times this winter.
The Tri-Lakes area only got a dusting of snow.
The National Weather Service in Albany said the heaviest snowfall was in Fulton County on the Adirondack Park's southern border, where 8 inches had fallen, and in areas of the Mohawk and Hudson valleys that got up to 5 inches. The snow turned to rain later today in most areas of eastern New York, where more snow - up to 6 inches - was forecast for Friday in parts of the Adirondacks.
The snow comes courtesy of a shift of cold air south from Canada, forecasters said.
"We're finally going to get a shot of the cold air to come down here," said Steve DiRienzo, a meteorologist with the weather service in Albany.
Before today's storm, Albany had received 6.5 inches of snow this winter, about 10 inches lower than normal.
Buffalo has had just 5.5 inches of snow this winter, some 40 inches below normal for the second week of January. And in normally snowy Syracuse, where the high hit 49 degrees Wednesday, only 13 inches has fallen so far this winter, compared to an average 54 inches by now. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, that's the least amount of snow for Syracuse through Jan. 11 since the weather service started keeping records at the airport in 1950.
The weather service in Buffalo has issued winter weather advisories for counties stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the eastern end of Lake Ontario, effective from 4 a.m. until 7 p.m. Friday. The Buffalo area was expected to get hit by lake-effect snow early Friday, with up to 6 inches expected and accumulations up to a foot possible in areas south of the city by Saturday morning.
In central New York, rain is expected to turn to snow early Friday morning, with forecasters calling for up to 8 inches of snow by late afternoon for some areas.
Temperatures will dip into the single digits and teens across the entire upstate region over the weekend. Highs aren't expected to top 20 until Monday in some areas.