When Agatha Bacelar of Upper Red Hook ventured to fetch her sourdough starter from the basement this morning, the doors were frozen shut. “It was like trying to cut through an ice cube,” Bacelar said. Thirty minutes later, after pouring boiling water on the icy basement doors, and with a little chisel-and-hammer help from fiancé Paul Fletcher-Hill, the starter was finally freed.
Like other Red Hook residents, Bacelar awoke to the aftermath of a storm that blanketed everything from tree branches to power lines with a thin layer of snow and ice. Rain showers last night quickly turned to sleet in the early morning, as temperatures in Red Hook dropped from the low 40s to the high 20s after midnight. The result: fallen trees across roads and power lines, shuttered schools, residents without electricity – and some forlorn sourdough.
“Ice storms are more difficult and complicated than snowstorms, and what we have here is ice,” Red Hook Highway Superintendent Theresa Burke told The Daily Catch this morning.
She said the roads remained unsafe for driving through the afternoon and urged residents to stay home, if possible. Burke said her department sanded and salted the roads at midnight. Her team was out plowing the roads as of 6 p.m. this evening.
Roughly half an inch of snow and freezing rain has accumulated today, with snow flurries and sleet expected to continue into the early evening until 8 p.m., when the National Weather Service forecasts the storm will subside.
Only a few cars were spotted on the roads today. “Luckily people are staying very cautious,” said Red Hook Police Sgt. Patrick Hildenbrand, the acting chief of police. While the Police Department said it received calls all day from residents reporting fallen trees and power lines, by 4 p.m., Hildenbrand said there had been no vehicle accidents reported in town.
Stuck inside their homes, dozens of Red Hook residents are still waiting for their power to return. The area’s electricity provider, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, estimates 179 town residents are without power, and new outages are still being reported, said Joe Jenkins, a spokesperson for the company. Jenkins expected the power to return for most customers by 3 p.m.
Hildenbrand noted that his home was without power for four hours this morning.
The combination of freezing rain, snow, and ice, combined with gusts of wind up to 20 miles per hour, downed multiple trees and power lines across town. At press time, Woods Road, Barrytown Road, and Aspinwall Road near the Sawkill Bridge were all temporarily closed due to fallen tree branches or toppled power lines. Check the latest road closures here.
The storm also forced the Red Hook Central School District to cancel today’s classes at all school buildings. This will be the district’s second snow day this school year.
A Winter Weather advisory for the Mid-Hudson Valley remained in effect until 8 p.m. today.
As for Bacelar, she is still waiting to bake her sourdough. For now, she’s feeding the starter, with the hopes of baking a fresh loaf on Monday.
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. Check back for occasional updates.