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State DOT: North country roads are “passable”

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Most north country roads were passable by Monday morning following an ice storm over the weekend that led to a travel ban and widespread power outages.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Michael R. Flick still was advising Northern New York residents to “exercise common sense” and refrain from driving Monday morning unless necessary.

“State highways are passable, open and fine. But if you don’t have to go out, don’t,” he said.

Last-minute Christmas shopping did not rank high on Mr. Flick’s list of necessary tasks for Monday.

The worst of the storm hit the north country overnight Saturday and on Sunday, leading to many county and town road closures.

Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties declared a state of emergency Sunday. But state highways remained open for the most part, thanks to some standard preparation work on the DOT’s part.

“We try to focus more on anti-icing than de-icing,” Mr. Flick said.

By putting salt down before the ice storm hit, the DOT workers were able to create a layer of water under the ice – making it easier to remove the thick ice with plows once the roads froze.

Over the weekend, state and local highway department workers also responded to a few incidents of downed-trees, but Mr. Flick said he did not have statics available Monday.

According to the National Grid website, about 13,000 customers in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties were without power Monday afternoon.

Melanie C. Littlejohn, National Grid’s regional executive director of central New York, said most homes should have electricity by Christmas eve night.

A crew of approximately 1,600 company workers was dealing with the aftermath of the storm Monday.

Flights into and out of Watertown International Airport were cancelled Monday due to inclement weather. Travelers were urged to make alternative flight arrangements as quickly as possible. As of late afternoon, the only available seats were on Christmas day flights.

American Airlines began cancelling flights to and from the airport at 5:35 p.m. Friday, according to information from airport staff.

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