PARISH, N.Y. – The snow got even deeper Sunday but the end was in sight after a weeklong series of squalls that have buried towns on one corner of Lake Ontario.
But as efforts to dig out Parish and surrounding towns were ramping up, the weather system was winding down.
The squalls shifted northward to the Watertown area Sunday morning and were expected to die down before drifting back to the south again, said meteorologist Steve McLaughlin at the National Weather Service in Buffalo.
"We have a sharp front coming in Monday that's going to kick all this out. We may get one more burst of snow, but then it's over. Finally, some mercy," McLaughlin said.
Residents of the nearby town of Mexico see 5- to 6-foot snowfalls every two or three years, but this time even hardened locals are amazed.
The only signs of parked SUVs are their radio antennas or roof racks sticking up above the snow. Front doors are buried and footprints lead to second-story windows. Sidewalks that have been dug out look like miniature canyons.
The state transportation department said 125 workers from elsewhere in the state had been sent in with snow equipment to help.
The region is located along the Tug Hill Plateau, the snowiest region this side of the Rocky Mountains. It's a 50-mile wedge of land that rises 2,100 feet from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. It usually gets about 300 inches — roughly 25 feet — of snow a year. The hamlet of Hooker, near the boundaries of Jefferson, Lewis, and Oswego counties, holds the state's one-year record with 466.9 inches, about 39 feet, in the winter of 1976-77.
Less than a month ago it seemed more like spring.
"Gosh, three weeks ago there was green on the ground. We got spoiled," Parish Mayor Leon Heagle said. "This just came fast. This is not normal. God, we can't catch a break. I feel like getting right in the car and driving south, but I'd probably get in trouble."
The intense blast of snow hasn't been blamed for any deaths in Oswego County. Elsewhere, however, more than a week of bitter cold and slippery roads have contributed to at least 25 deaths across the northeastern quarter of the nation — five in Ohio, four in Illinois, four in Indiana, two in Kentucky, seven in Michigan, and one each in Wisconsin, and Maryland and elsewhere in New York, authorities said.