ITHACA, N.Y. — Weathering a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm is becoming a holiday ritual for the people of Tompkins County. In 2016, more than 20 inches fell in Caroline in the days before the holiday, with more modest totals falling in the rest of the county, and a storm struck in 2014 too.

Even so, the 10.1 inches that fell in Ithaca from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning are unusual. The city averaged 4.5 inches of November snow from 1981-2010, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center. With 10 inches on the ground and more snow showers expected over the coming week, November 2018 is on track to be well above average.

Related: Closings: List of schools and businesses closed Friday

It was a snow day for area schools and even a couple of local colleges, including Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

According to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, a trained spotter reported 10.1 inches of snow in Ithaca at 7 a.m. A spotter in East Lansing reported 8 inches of snow at 7:28 a.m. So far, 10 inches is the highest total reported in Tompkins County but more information may be available later. Other counties in Central New York have reported snow totals between 9 inches and up to 15 inches in Steuben County.

Snowfall on State Street in Downtown Ithaca at about 9 a.m. Nov. 16, 2018. (Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)
Snowfall on State Street in Downtown Ithaca at about 9 a.m. Nov. 16, 2018. (Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Heavy precipitation started right around Thursday’s evening commute, prompting “an extremely high volume” of traffic calls to the Tompkins County Dispatch Center. More than 100 calls came in to report incidents ranging from vehicles sliding off the road to concerns about slippery conditions. Calls had slowed down by Friday morning, a spokesperson said, helped by local schools and workplaces shutting down for the day.

To stay safe, the Ithaca Fire Department asks residents to clear snow away from fire hydrants. The City of Ithaca likewise reminds homeowners that it is their responsibility to clear snow from sidewalks. Those who fail to clear snow from the sidewalk within 24 hours of when snowfall starts may be fined a minimum of $50 for a city crew to plow it.

Featured image: A small plow in Dewitt Park in Ithaca after the snowstorm Nov. 16. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.