SARANAC LAKE -While the forecast called for rain and high winds for the North Country Friday, some areas were surprised by heavy snow, including as much as four inches in Ray Brook Friday afternoon and accumulations in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Vermontville.
While rain fell hard in Tupper Lake, snow didn't make its way into the village until around 3 p.m. As of Friday evening, Tupper Lake still had no snow accumulation.
North Elba and Lake Placid Highway Departments and the state Department of Transportation plows were caught off-guard by the storm, which caused numerous car accidents in the area including several cars spinning off the road and a jack-knifed tractor trailer on state Route 73 near Cascade Lakes.
State police and Lake Placid volunteer firefighters on scene as the snow falls Friday after a tractor trailer and several cars spun off the road on state Route 73.
(Photo for the Enterprise — Eric Voorhis)
"It's a mess out here," said Lake Placid volunteer firefighter Matt Colby, standing near the tractor trailer. "We really have our hands full."
Members of the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department, who responded to a call shortly after 1 p.m., were on the scene along with state police and the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service. Route 73 was closed temporarily from the ski jumps to Keene as emergency personnel went to work.
Two other tractor trailers were stopped on the side of the road and a long line of traffic was held back while DOT and North Elba plows arrived to blast the road with sand. Several people waiting in their cars for the scene to be cleared echoed the question: "Wasn't this supposed to be rain?"
Even at 3 p.m. when the road was reopened and snow continued to fall, the national weather service forecast for Lake Placid predicted heavy rain.
Reports of accidents in the area kept coming. At 3:45 p.m., the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department responded to "four calls all at once," according to head driver Brad Jaques, and were dispatched back to state Route 73 after several additional cars and one tractor trailer drove off the road. Route 73 was closed again at 4 p.m. and reopened at 5 p.m.
Although they were responding to car accidents - one car slid into a ditch, another slammed into a rock, according to Jaques - volunteer firefighters found two people who had been riding motorcycles stranded on the roadside between Keene and Lake Placid. A flatbed truck was brought in and they were transported to safety, Jaques said.
Around the same time, volunteer firefighters were dispatched to state Route 86 in Wilmington when a tree fell and struck a vehicle. There were no injuries reported.
"We're really lucky that no one got hurt out there today," Jaques said.
A little farther west, as snow turned to rain, the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department responded to down power lines on a building at the Sherwood Forest Cabins, 15 Knottingham Way in Ray Brook, at 4:49 p.m. with two trucks and 14 members. After the power lines were shut off by the National Grid Energy Service, volunteers checked the building and found no damage or need for further action. They were back in service at 5:56 p.m.