Wednesday will be cold and blustery, but expect relief later in the day

By 5 p.m Tuesday, the Rochester/Finger Lakes region had seen more than five hours of heavy snow, just missing the 35 mph winds to qualify as a true blizzard, tweeted News10 NBC meteorologist Rich Caniglia. But the amount of snow did not disappoint, averaging between 6 and 12 inches throughout the region.

As vexing as the steady snow is, Canandaigua Town Manager Doug Finch said highway crews were keeping an eye on the winds, which were expected to pick up steam Wednesday. High winds over snowy open areas in the town can create white-out conditions for drivers.

“That will be the challenge,” Finch said.

Snow is expected to continue on Wednesday, with blowing and drifting — though tapering off later in the day. On Thursday, expect just a few flurries, according to the National Weather Service. Friday will see some sun and the weekend will remain cold (in the 20s) with some snow flurries expected.

Most schools and many businesses were closed Tuesday as the sloppy, blustery late-season storm lashed the entire Northeast with sleet and more than a foot of snow in places. In Ontario and Wayne counties, heavy snow continued to fall another 4 to 6 inches Tuesday evening and Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero reported wind causing visibility issues.

Povero and Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts both issued travel advisories in effect until 10 p.m. and elevated warnings to “no unnecessary travel” from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Wednesday.

In Ontario County, by late afternoon 911 reported 30 highway-related mishaps ihad happened since midnight. That included 13 reports of cars in a ditch, two rollover crashes, four crashes with injuries (all minor) and 11 property-damage-only crashes. The crashes have taken place in all areas of the county.

Extra sheriff's patrols were on duty and continued to monitor highway conditions and respond to calls for service as needed. Povero reminded motorists to use caution around snowplows and allow plows space to work on roads.

In Rochester on Tuesday morning, Rochester firefighters rescued a man after a vehicle went through a fence and over a gorge on Maplewood Drive. Firefighters say the vehicle went over around 11:15 a.m. When rescue teams arrived on scene, firefighters found the car was all the way at the bottom of the embankment near Seneca Parkway. Firefighters say it took about 25 minutes to rescue the driver, using both rope and water rescue teams. The victim was taken by ambulance for treatment. The snowy and cold weather made the rescue difficult, but firefighters were able to quickly work and help the person.

Beyond the Finger Lakes region, the storm paralyzed much of the entire Washington-to-Boston corridor after a remarkably mild February had lulled people into thinking the worst of winter was over. The powerful nor'easter grounded nearly 6,000 flights, knocked out power to almost a quarter-million customers from Virginia northward, closed schools in cities big and small and prompted dire warnings to stay off the roads. Amtrak suspended service, and the post office halted mail delivery. As the morning wore on, the storm track shifted slightly and snow switched to sleet in Philadelphia and New York, prompting forecasters to lift blizzard warnings for the two big cities and cut their prediction of a foot or more of snow by over half.

It was easily the biggest storm in a merciful winter that had mostly spared the Northeast, and many weren't happy about it.

"It's horrible," said retired gumball-machine technician Don Zimmerman, of Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, using a snowblower to clear the sidewalk along his block. "I thought winter was out of here. ... It's a real kick in the rear."

While people mostly heeded dire warnings to stay home and off the roads, police said a 16-year-old girl was killed when she lost control of her car on a snowy road and hit a tree in Gilford, New Hampshire.

As the storm closed in, the National Weather Service used terms like "life-threatening" and urged people to "shelter in place," language that has come to be associated with mass shootings. In the end, the line between snow and rain shifted slightly to the west, sparing some of the Northeast's big cities.

Government meteorologists realized by late Monday afternoon that there was a good chance the storm wasn't going to produce the giant big-city snow totals predicted. But they didn't change their forecast for fear people would mistakenly think the storm was no longer dangerous, said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the Weather Prediction Center.

In New York, tractor trailers were banned on the entire state Thruway, along with other routes including I-81, I-84, I-86, and I-88.

Locally, along with closings at most schools and many businesses, the Canandaigua YMCA was open early in the day but closed at at 3:30 pm. Tuesday. Wood Library in Canandaigua, along most other libraries, were closed for the day. Many municipal meetings were postponed, and malls across the Rochester area, including Eastview Mall in Victor, closed Tuesday afternoon due to the storm. Most places planned to reopen Wednesday, though people were advised to call or check social media channels first.

Includes reporting by The Associated Press and Messenger Post news partner News 10NBC