SARANAC LAKE - The first major snowstorm of the season hit the North Country this morning, blanketing local roads but causing no serious accidents so far.
At least a half a foot of snow had fallen in the Saranac Lake area as of 8 a.m., with more expected as the day continues. The National Weather Service in Burlington is calling for another 6 to 10 inches of snow today from Winter Storm Euclid, with 1 to 3 inches in the forecast for Friday.
Local, state and private snow plow crews have been at work since early this morning.
Snow blankets vehicles parked in downtown Saranac?Lake this morning as Winter Storm Euclid moves into the area.
(Enterprise photo — Chris?Morris)
"We were geared up and ready to go yesterday," said village of Saranac Lake Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Dora. "We hit the ground running and we're going to keep hitting it until the storm's over."
Dora asked people to stay off the streets, if they can, as it will allow his crews to work quicker to remove the snow.
"Right now we're trying to concentrate on everything: sidewalks, the main streets, the side streets, the parking lots," he said. "Every piece of snow removal equipment we have is out there right now."
There were no serious snow-related accidents in Saranac Lake so far, according to village police and the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
In Tupper Lake, village police Sergeant Sean Stradley estimated that 8 to 10 inches of snow had fallen by 7:30 a.m.
There were no car crashes or weather-related incidents that either village or state police had to deal with by that time, but Stradley said "Roads are pretty slippery."
"Just got to be careful out there," Stradley said.
It was snowing hard in Lake Placid as of 7:30 this morning. A representative of the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department said Ray Brook-based state police had responded to a "couple cars off the road," but nothing serious. State police confirmed that no injuries or major property damage had been reported as of 8 a.m. today.
North Elba Highway Superintendent Larry Straight said snow removal was operating smoothly this morning.
"So far, so good," he said. "It's the holiday season; we've got a lot of visitors in town. We just have to open up the roads for them."
The slow start to the winter season has helped Straight's department stay under budget.
"We should be in good shape this winter," he said.
The storm didn't impact local schools because they were already closed for the holiday break.
The Paul Smith's College campus was closed today. Classes were not in session and students weren't on campus anyway due to winter break, but staff was also told to stay home. North Country Community College is also on break.
Cape Air has canceled all its flights today in and out of the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.
The snow was welcome news to local ski centers like Whiteface Mountain, where General Manager Aaron Kellet said more than a foot of snow fell near the top of the mountain overnight. He said the base of the slope had received about 10 inches of snow as of 8 a.m.
"There's a little wind up top, so the upper lifts will be a little delayed this morning, but we're going to get everything open as soon as we can," Kellet said. "I've heard it's fantastic out there from a couple of people who skinned up this morning."
Whiteface is operated by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which also maintains cross-country ski trails at Mount Van Hoevenberg. ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin said 47 out of 50 kilometers of trails are open today.
"We've been waiting for this for over a year now," he said. "The last big storm we had was two Marches ago. This is long overdue, and it's coming at a perfect time. Get out and enjoy the snow and enjoy the venues."
Dora said he was thankful for the snow because it will provide a boost to Mount Pisgah Ski Center, which is scheduled to open for the season today.
"Pisgah needs it," he said. "Any snow we get helps those guys out tremendously."
Paul Maroun, the mayor of Tupper Lake, noted this morning that it's a shame the Big Tupper Ski Area isn't open this season. The last three ski seasons, it was run without any snowmaking, and this kind of snow would have been welcomed after last year, when the slopes were only running 11 days.
"It's too bad the ski slope's not open so everybody could ski there instead of having to travel to Lake Placid or Malone," Maroun said.