MEXICO, New York – Before weekend squalls add to the 8 feet of snow already on the ground, the communities along eastern Lake Ontario needed the dry respite they got Friday.
"Have to move fast. Want to at least get it off my roof," said Ray DeLong, 75, as he carved a path to his driveway with a snowblower and two contractors pushed streams of snow from the roof of his two-story home.
Snow squalls off Lake Ontario have dumped snow by the feet onto Oswego County communities since Sunday, leading Gov. Eliot Spitzer to declare a state disaster emergency.
Parish and Scriba had about 8 feet of snow since the squalls started, according to the National Weather Service. Mexico Mayor Terry Grimshaw said his village was blanketed by 7 feet.
On Friday, the squalls shifted south into Syracuse and stayed there, dropping 4 to 8 inches of snow.
But forecasters said heavy snow bands would return to Oswego County later Friday night and likely stall there again. The forecasts call for another 6 to 12 inches, pushing the seven-day total over 100 inches.
While residents enjoyed Friday's lull, snow plows were out in full force to clear roads. An advisory against any nonessential travel remained in effect for Oswego and three nearby counties. Snow banks tower nearly 10 feet tall and have narrowed roads.
Although authorities have reported few problems because of the snow, Oswego Fire Chief Ed Geers said his firefighters have had to help three ambulances that got stuck in the snow.
Schools were closed the entire week. Mexico Superintendent Nelson Bauersfeld said if the district exceeds its allotted six snow days, it would have to shorten its winter or spring breaks.
More than a week of bitter cold and slippery roads have contributed to at least 20 deaths across the northern quarter of the nation — five in Ohio, four in Illinois, four in Indiana, two in Kentucky, two in Michigan, and one each in Wisconsin, New York and Maryland, authorities said. There have been no deaths in Oswego County related to the snow.