PLATTSBURGH — Clinton and Franklin counties could see a significant amount of ice as a major storm system rolls through today and into Sunday.
Northern Essex County may get ice; the southern areas rain, said Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish on Friday afternoon.
“The farther south you are, the better off you are,” he said, just after taking part in his third conference call of the day with the National Weather Service. “(But) the problem is they can’t predict the areas that are going to be affected (for sure).
“It’s so tight with the temperature (below and above 32 degrees from one spot to another), it’s really hard to predict.”
‘IN PREPARE MODE’
Emergency operations centers will open today in both Clinton and Franklin counties, staffed overnight into Sunday, when the greatest potential for ice buildup exists, Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day.
“We’re here; we’re ready,” he said.
The North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross has laid the groundwork should shelters need to open, he said.
National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas were mobilizing in advance of possible power outages.
“We’ve been in the prepare mode all day,” Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said.
When his emergency operations center opens at noon today, a spectrum of agencies will meet to map out protocol in the event that the storm wreaks serious damage.
Among them will be the State Department of Transportation, county agencies such as the Highway and Health departments and local fire departments, along with numerous others.
“We’ve been working with the Red Cross throughout the day,” Provost said.
It’s good to be prepared for the worst, he said, but with the prediction of an inch of ice, maximum, he said, shelters would likely go unopened.
‘NOT ‘98 ICE STORM’
When the threat of ice looms, the North Country remembers the paralyzing 1998 Ice Storm that locked down the region for days as downed trees and power lines fell under the weight of the ice that coated every surface.
But that storm brought between 2 and 4 inches of ice, at least an inch more than was forecast for this weekend.
The Weather Service, Jaquish said, calls the coming storm “a significant event, but it’s not the Ice Storm of 1998.”
That could change, said Day, always aware of the fickle behavior of weather despite the best in forecast technology, “but from what I see today (Friday), I would agree with that.”
Provost was thinking ahead to some windy weather coming beyond the predicted ice.
“That could put a little twist in the complexity of the incident,” he said, for the heavy weight of ice on trees, combined with wind, would not be a good combination.
Sloppy weather on Friday gave a taste of what might be in store today and Sunday.
“There are probably 15 accidents going on right now,” Day said at about 5:30 p.m.
Precipitation varied throughout the day, with snow, sleet and some light freezing rain making roads greasy.
“Highway crews have been out all day,” he said.
Safety of the public is top priority as serious storms approach, Day said. And he knows folks are traveling in advance of Christmas.
“If you have to travel, do so with caution,” he warned anyone who might be on the roads today, especially later in the day. “Stay out of the way of highway crews; let them do their jobs.”
Should the power go out, another set of cautions would kick in — safe use of candles, of generators.
“Generators are a good thing ... but generator safety is always a big concern.”
Shut off a generator before gassing it up, he said. And don’t run it anywhere where carbon dioxide can build up and threaten lives, including inside or near an open window where the CO2 can filter in.
People should plan to be self-sufficient in their homes for three days, Day noted, with enough water, food, medications and other necessities on hand.
‘SLICK ROOFS FOR SANTA’
Higher elevations — Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Dannemora — may only get rain, officials said, while areas along the U.S./Canadian border would see the most ice.
“We’ll wait and see what’s going to happen,” Jaquish said. “(But) the weather guys are pretty confident they are correct.”
And if they are, the weather should improve by Christmas, according to forecasts.
Even so, Day spared a thought for flying conditions on Dec. 24.
While ice on Santa’s sleigh could cause considerable problems, the Emergency Services chief figured that wouldn’t be an issue.
“I would think the biggest thing is him landing, with big sheets of ice on the roofs.”
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