CAPE VINCENT, N.Y. (WWTI) — December 1 is considered the first day of meteorological winter, which was fitting for the North Country.

A lake effect snowstorm hit parts of Jefferson and Lewis counties, leading to heavy snow accumulations on the Tug Hill Plateau and high wind gusts.

On Lake Ontario, it sounded like the ocean. Waves swelled up to 15 and 20 feet, which were visible on the shoreline. Lakeside communities faced blistering winds that gusted over 50 miles per hour.

“It really started picking up, the wind, about 24 hours ago it seems now,” Michael Avery, of Cape Vincent, said. “It’s been howling all night. It’s hard to sleep in these conditions.”

Avery explained that he started preparing earlier in November as he anticipated a switch to extreme winter weather.

“You definitely want to make sure things are put away in the fall because you can expect this,” he said. “You definitely wouldn’t want to be out there in a boat.”

The high winds caused some commercial vessels to anchor on Wednesday on both ends of the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River portion of the Great Lakes Seaway, according to Seaway Ship Ship Watchers Network Michael Folsom.

But onshore, the town of Cape Vincent also saw storm damage.

“It’s been very windy to this point,” Cape Vincent Highway Department Employee Tom Martilotta said. “We’ve had some water and freezing spray on the roads. We’ve had a lot of tree limbs down, a lot of signs got damaged and broken.”

Martilotta explained that the Department had been working since the storm hard to clean up the roads and fix signs.

Both Martilotta and Avery agreed that this was just the beginning of a typical North Country winter.

“We have to be North Country tough up here,” Avery shared. “It’s the nature showing us how powerful it is and how much we have to have respect for it.”

“When mother nature’s coming through, she’s coming through,” Martilotta added. “That’s the same thing we say in the snowstorm, when mother nature’s coming, she’s coming hard.”

As of Thursday afternoon, all wind warnings had expired for both Jefferson and Lewis counties. A lake effect snow warning will remain active in Lewis County through 7 p.m.