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SUNY Delhi's online courses get national accolades

Above: Screenshot of the U.S. News & World Report online education website, featuring SUNY Delhi as tied for First Place.

What do you do when you're the only college for miles in the middle of rural upstate New York? Invest in online-only courses. 

It's a strategy that's worked for SUNY Delhi, a rural technical college in the Catskills that just tied for first place in U.S. News & World Report's 2014 rankings for Best Online Bachelor Programs. (The other first-place winner for the category was Central Michigan University.) 

Delhi got the nod for its online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, designed to allow working nurses to earn a bachelor's degree. The college specializes in technical degrees -- programs like culinary arts, criminal justice, and turf management.  Read more

High-speed chase on Route 28 ends in arrest

A Delhi 16-year-old was arrested Wednesday after leading state police on a high-speed chase on Route 28, eventually ditching his car and fleeing into the woods.

Around 4:40 in the afternoon on Wednesday, Jan. 22, state police responded to a report of an unauthorized vehicle on Route 28 near Gladstone Hollow in Andes. When troopers attempted to stop the car, the driver fled, speeding and driving erratically to avoid being pulled over, according to a police statement

The driver sped eastward on Route 28 and fled all the way from Andes to Olive, over 40 miles away. The car was stopped on Route 28 near Mountain Road in Olive by a "stinger" tire deflation device deployed by police. 

The driver, 16-year-old Wade Armstrong of Delhi, abandoned the car and fled into the woods where he was arrested, police said.   Read more

Scenes from a Catskills cold snap

Above: Even in subzero weather, Roxbury looks picture-perfect. Photo taken Wednesday at sunset by Greg Henderson of the Roxbury Motel.

Above: It's a nippy 4.1 degrees right now on Belleayre Mountain, but the freshly-groomed corduroy looks pretty inviting. Photo posted today on Belleayre's Facebook page

  Read more

NY doubles down on high-tech weather forecasting

Meteorologist Mitch Gilt of the National Weather Service measures snowfall in Binghamton after a recent storm. Photo from NWS Binghamton's Facebook page.

After three major storms in three years, New Yorkers are investing heavily in high-tech weather forecasting. 

In his proposed budget for 2014-2015, released on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to set aside $15 million of federal aid earmarked for Hurricane Sandy to build a "state-of-the-art weather detection system" that will create scores of new weather stations throughout the state. From the governor's budget proposal:

The system will provide real-time warnings of local extreme weather and flood conditions, and identify threats to communities, roads, bridges and the electric system. Data will be available for use in predictive modeling and early warnings to prevent loss of life and property. The number of weather stations will be increased from the current 27 to over 100, creating a highly sophisticated real-time weather reporting network that will accelerate and improve information sharing, thereby assisting emergency responders in responding to extreme weather events. 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the city's upstate reservoirs, has also been investing heavily in weather technology lately. The DEP needs accurate weather data -- especially streamflow data -- to manage more than a billion gallons a day flowing through the city's water system. 

  Read more

The commissioner grew carrots

Above: New York State Agricultural Society President Diane Held congratulates Schoharie County farmer Richard Ball, recently appointed as New York State's new Commissioner of Agriculture, at the group's 2014 forum on New York agriculture. Photo from the New York State Agricultural Society's Facebook page.

Look through the roster of New York State's top agricultural officials, and you might notice they've got something in common: Cows.   Read more

Return of the polar vortex

Don't go out there, kitty. Photo taken in Andes over the weekend by Mark Zilberman; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

It's baaa-aaaaack: The polar vortex, a whirling mass of low-pressure frigid air that usually has the decency to stay far north of us, is dipping down south again this week to pay the Northeast and Midwest another visit.   Read more

Sidney gas drilling moratorium struck down in court

Above: Inge Grafe-Kieklak, plaintiff in a recent lawsuit challenging a Sidney town moratorium on gas drilling, demonstrates at a pro-drilling rally in Albany on Oct. 15, 2012. Grafe-Kieklak's sign, written in her native German, translates: "Gov. Cuomo, you have no right to take our mineral rights!" Photo taken by pro-drilling blogger Andy Leahy of NY Shale Gas Now; reproduced by permission.

A state judge struck down the town of Sidney's recently-passed moratorium on gas drilling last week, ruling that the town failed to follow proper procedure in enacting the law. 

The decision has been hailed by pro-drilling advocates as a victory. But because of its narrow focus, the Sidney case is unlikely to have much impact on the larger legal question of whether towns have authority to regulate gas drilling within their borders -- an issue that is still yet to be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.  Read more

Catskills under weekend flood watch; Ashokan releases underway

Above: A running spigot at Hubbell Bros. in the Delaware County town of Middletown gets the polar vortex treatment. Photo taken on Wednesday by Watershed Post reader Burr Hubbell, who writes, "The water's still running inside that icicle thingy. It's just frozen on the outside."

The Northeast is thawing out this weekend, after several days of intense subzero cold. In the Catskills and across a wide area of upstate New York, a combination of rain in the forecast and melting snow and ice from rapidly-warming temperatures has the region under flood watch from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening.   Read more

Cold snap taking a toll on power grid, officials say

Don't touch that dial (til 10 p.m.). Closeup photo of washing machine control panel by Flickr user Chris Dillon; published under Creative Commons license

Officials at the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the nonprofit company that manages and monitors New York State's complex electrical power system, are worried that abnormally cold temperatures may take a toll on the electrical grid.   Read more

Polar vortex heads for the Catskills (with liveblog)

Above: A chilly early-morning scene in the Schoharie County town of Esperance, taken Sunday morning by Flickr user A Man Called ACME. It's about to get chillier, as a front of Arctic air sends temperatures plunging across the Northeast. Photo shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool

Forget "Hercules": This week's bitter cold spell, setting in Monday and continuing until Wednesday, is set to eclipse last week's brief bout of subzero temperatures. A frigid front of Arctic air dubbed the "polar vortex" already has the Midwest in its icy grip, and by nightfall, will send temperatures plunging in the Northeast as well. 

Local forecasters at the National Weather Service in Binghamton are predicting that temperatures Monday night and Tuesday could be the coldest in a decade or more. In a detailed briefing issued Monday morning, NWS forecasters warned that Tuesday would be the coldest day of the cold snap, with temperatures down to 10 below zero or lower and wind chills of up to 30 to 35 below zero in their forecast area, which extends to the western Catskills. 

To the east, the National Weather Service's Albany station warned that the Hudson Valley and eastern Catskills -- which warmed up to the 40s and 50s on Monday -- would drop back below freezing on Monday afternoon

By midnight Monday, the entire Catskills region will be under either a wind chill advisory (Schoharie County) or a more serious wind chill warning (Delaware and Sullivan counties, Greene County and Ulster County).

With temperatures this low, power outages could be dangerous for those without backup generators or other heat sources. During last week's subzero cold snap, problems with a NYSEG substation transformer left over 4,000 homes in Delaware County without power for a few hours -- long enough to freeze pipes, for some. A spokesman for the utility said NYSEG workers are ready to respond quickly if another power outage occurs.

Generator safety is especially vital in cold weather. In November of 2012, two elderly Shokan residents died in their home after a power outage, when their gasoline-powered generator filled their house with carbon monoxide.

We're tracking the local impacts of the cold front in real time on Storify. Let us know of any road accidents, power outages or other issues in your neighborhood at editor@watershedpost.com, and we'll post them to the liveblog below. (We'll gladly share your gorgeous ice pictures, too.) The latest updates appear at the top of the liveblog.