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High winds, lake effect snow whip through region Thursday

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Winter came back with a vengeance Thursday.

Whipping winds and sleet created dangerous driving conditions throughout the region Thursday, just a day after temperatures cracked an all-time high in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Top wind speeds in the area by Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service:

n 53 mph in Watertown at 8:40 a.m.

n 51 mph on Fort Drum at 7:13 a.m.

n 51 mph in Potsdam at 5 a.m.

n 54 mph in Massena at 11:11 a.m.

More than 15 schools closed or dismissed students early because of the weather. In St. Lawrence County, Gouverneur Central School canceled afternoon activities.

Temperatures will continue to drop into the weekend.

The weather was looking much different just the day before, however.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jonathan Hitchcock, Buffalo, said Wednesday’s record high of 62 degrees “shattered” 2006’s record of 52 degrees in Watertown.

In Massena, the mercury rose to 63 degrees, breaking 1988’s record of 49 degrees.

“It was a pretty significant record, said Brooke O. Tabor, National Weather Service meteorologist in Burlington, Vt. “It’s very unusual to have the temperature we had on one day, then a strong cold front the next.”

Gusty southwestern winds took down tree limbs and power lines in St. Lawrence County.

Snow showers are predicted for the remainder of the week.

“We’re back to normal winter conditions,” Mr. Tabor said. “Temperatures will probably be in the teens (Friday) and below zero for Saturday.”

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