Life on the Tug Hill: Where heavy lake effect snow brings everyone together

Local News

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and appreciation of those you hold dear to your heart. But there are some who hold what Mother Nature brings dear to their heart all winter long. 

Anytime from the beginning of November through the end of March it can happen.

“We’ve had 4 feet in one night, we’ve had 6 feet in 2 days,” said Judith Ortiz, Owner of Cabin Fever Cottages. 

“We’ve had over 420 inches of snow,” said Wanda Lacelle, Owner of The Gathering Place.

“We ended up honestly with 183 inches.” said Carol Yerdon, Redfield Weather Watcher .

That’s a lot of snow! Can you imagine dealing with more than 15 feet of snow in just 13 days? That’s more than double the height of SU star, Tyus Battle.

“We get more snow here…northern Oswego County, Lewis and Jefferson County than anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains,” said Mike Yerdon, Vice Chairman of the Tug Hill Commission.

It’s all about location. The Tug Hill sits east of Lake Ontario. Here, cold winter air has the chance to travel the greatest distance over the lake, picking up the most moisture. The sudden rise in elevation of the plateau wrings out that moisture from the clouds creating heavy snow. 

In the 1940’s, there was so much snow that bridges collapsed and early snow plows couldn’t handle it all. Improvements with the plow equipment and the invention of the snowmobile were really a turning point for the Tug. It was essential to get around in the 50s and 60s but now is used more for fun. People come from hundreds of miles away for the trails but riders end up discovering more. 

“As long as you have coconut cream pie, that’s all I want,” said Greg Hocknell of Long Island.

“Yeah I’ve got coconut cream pie, you’re set!” said Lacelle.

“That’s all I care about, that’s all I came for,” said Hocknell.

The pie isn’t the only sweet thing around Redfield, the people are too.

“I was probably at the end of my driveway, waiting for the school bus, and it’s not unusual for drivers to find different locations on the map that sell gas.” said Ortiz

“We needed gas desperately, 2 weeks ago, and we stumbled on this place again but they were closed,” recalled Hocknell.

“And this particular group needed gas,” said Ortiz.
“So the woman across the street, Judy, I asked her, is there a gas station around here? She said not really but I have 5 gallons in the back of my truck, you guys are welcome to that,” said Hocknell.

“I won’t see anyone go without or get stuck,” said Ortiz.

Hocknell said, “It was enough to get us back. But then she showed us her cabins and next time we come up here I think we’re going to stay there.” 

Just down the road is where Carol Yerdon calls home. She’s originally from Baldwinsville and ever since she moved up to Redfield in the ’90’s, she’s helped spread the love of snow and put her little town on the big map.

“Redfield is like known around the world because of snow and I mean it’s awesome. It is a positive thing and I know there’s other weather happening that’s not always positive so I kind of put a positive spin on the snow part of it. Like I said, snow is it’s a lot of work to some, but it’s also a lot of fun if you just, just let it be,” said Carol Yerdon.

This kind of snow may not be for everyone but this community looks forward to the snowflakes. They all say the weather is what brings them closer together. 

“If you want to just get away, you want to relax, you want somewhere to go where everybody is friendly, give us a try, come on up,” said Ortiz.

“I think that it makes you take time for yourself and that’s when I realized how much I truly love it here. I got to actually sit back and enjoy it,” said Carol Yerdon.

“Actually I love it, I really do love it,” said Lacelle.

Why stay here?

“It’s home,” said Mike Yerdon.

Clearly, home is where the heart is for people who live on the Tug Hill.
 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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