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Lake Placid weathers 19-plus-hour power outage

No injuries reported during cold overnight blackout

People take a photo in the snow outside the Adirondack Community Church in downtown Lake Placid Saturday night. (Enterprise photo - Antonio Olivero)

LAKE PLACID – Electricity was restored to most of this mountain village at around 10:15 a.m. today, concluding a wet, dark and at times frigid 19-plus-hour stretch without power for residents and visitors.

State Route 86 between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and state Route 73 between Keene Valley and Lake Placid were opened back up for traffic early Sunday morning. They had been closed Saturday evening due to downed trees and whiteout conditions. River Road on the eastern edge of Lake Placid remains closed due to flooding, village police said.

Tri-Lakes residents were enjoying spring-like temperatures early Saturday, but by late afternoon they were dealing with thunderstorms, heavy snow, wind and power outages amid a flood warning in the AuSable River watershed. By Sunday morning, temperatures had dipped to slightly below 20 degrees.

The power outage that affected Lake Placid, Ray Brook and parts of neighboring communities was caused by a broken 115,000-volt power line in a remote location between Lake Placid and Ray Brook. There were other outages as well. Parts of Saranac Lake were without power on Saturday, and a National Grid online map also showed outages in Rainbow Lake and Lake Clear. Lake Placid police dispatch said Saturday that a crew from National Grid was working to remedy the problem on the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

Speaking shortly after noon on Sunday, Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said the restoration of power took as long as it did because of the remote location of the broken line, which required National Grid employees to hand-climb up poles.

Main Street, Lake Placid, is dark except for car headlights around 10 p.m. Saturday amid a power outage. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

Jaquish added that he was told crews began the repair work very early Sunday morning after National Grid assembled repair workers Saturday night

“During the storm, it would be too dangerous to try and do that,” Jaquish said. “They had to wait for the wind to abate. They went in as early as they could. They assembled the crew last night.”

Jaquish said, to his knowledge, there were no reported injuries due to the storm. He said many cars slid off roads due to difficult driving conditions and that there were dozens of downed trees through the county due to the storm, which he said caught some officials by surprise.

“We were anticipating 2 inches,” he said.

Police also reported that a number of vehicles had slid off roadways throughout the region Saturday evening.

Heavy, wet snow coats Lake Placid Saturday night. (Enterprise photo - Antonio Olivero)

The U.S. Olympic Training Center gym was used as an emergency shelter, and Lake Placid emergency services traveled around the village Saturday night to transport those whose health conditions required electricity.

U.S. Route 9 through New Russia, between state Route 73 and Elizabethtown, will be closed from 6 a.m. to noon Monday, Feb. 27 for tree removal, according to Essex County Emergency Services.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch through 7 p.m. today for northern New York, including the Tri-Lakes villages of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

A flood warning remains in effect for the East Branch of the AuSable River at AuSable Forks. As of 3:15 a.m. today, the stage was 7.6 feet, according to the NWS. Flood stage is 7 feet. Minor flooding is occurring, and more is forecast. Rising water is being monitored at Marcy Field and the Hulls Falls Road in the town of Keene and the Stickney Bridge in the town of Jay.

The Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross-Country Ski Center outside Lake Placid is closed today, but the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington is open with 3 inches of fresh snow. Cascade Cross-Country Ski Center in Lake Placid is also open.

Heavy, wet snow sticks to fences, signs and trees at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid Saturday night. (Enterprise photo - Antonio Olivero)

The inclement weather was a sudden turn in the conditions as temperatures creeped close to 60 degrees in the Tri-Lakes earlier Saturday before the storm hit in the mid-afternoon. And as day turned to dusk, rain turned to heavy flurries that featured intermittent lightning strikes and thunder snow.

After sundown, Lake Placid’s Main Street was dark. The only lights illuminating downtown were those from generator-fueled government buildings, a couple of illuminated hotel lobbies and spotlights shipped in by the county. Inside hotels, some tourists huddled in hallways.

Some visitors were in town for an international hockey tournament at the Olympic Center, but its games were canceled after 4 p.m. Saturday and all of Sunday.

As midnight neared on a dark, desolate and cold Main Street, few people wandered the mucky, humid streets. Some were stranded from traveling back to neighboring communities such as Saranac Lake. Others returned home from the few establishments that remained open, such as the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. The popular bar on Mirror Lake Drive remained open until around 11 p.m., serving beer by candlelight.

“When the power went out, it was mayhem at first,” pub employee Drew Farris said. “Then it just turned into everybody making the best of it, taking care of those people who came up here on vacation and had nothing else to do but come drink beer.

Electricity is out at the Downtown Diner on Main Street, Lake Placid, Saturday night. (Enterprise photo - Antonio Olivero)

“There were at least 20 to 30 people,” he continued. “It wasn’t a typical Saturday night, but there was a guy who came walking in with a disco ball and a speaker of his own, and just started playing music.”

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